By Ian Wishart
Two years ago I wrote the book that blew open the Scott Watson/Ben & Olivia murder case, “Elementary: What Haven’t They Told You?”.
Twenty years ago tonight, Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were enjoying what would become their last night on earth – although of course they didn’t know it.
As they partied at Furneaux Lodge, nestled in the azure bush-lined waters of Endeavour Inlet at the mouth of the Marlborough Sounds, Ben and Olivia were on a random collision course with a man who had recently told friends he would like to rape a woman and kill her, who had once tried to rape a Christchurch teenager at knifepoint, and who had in fact indecently assaulted two women at a party in Whangarei only a month before Furneaux.
That man was Scott Watson. The witness testimony in regard to those incidents is directly quoted in the Elementary book (available from the library or any Whitcoulls store if you can’t find it) if you want to see the full quotes for yourself. It is testimony you won’t find in any of the other books written on this case by Scott Watson supporters; it is an inconvenient truth they don’t want the public to know. “He was just a lovable rogue!”, they tell the public in their books and documentaries, “a bit of a larrikin but that doesn’t make him a killer.”
Let’s get that misinformation dealt to right away: Andrew Averill was Watson’s closest friend. He knew Watson better than most.
“I remember on one occasion we over sitting in my second boat at the Picton Marina and a tourist walked past. Scott said “Rape the bitch”. Another time a young girl walked past and he said “Show us your tits”. He yelled it out so she could hear. He actually said “Show us your tits, you slut”.
“He was always saying things like that. He told me since that the way to make money was to make movies of raping women and killing them. He called them snuff movies. He was stoned when he said this. He was always talking about things like this, and he would quite often get really worked up about it.”
Vicki Eastgate told police of an incident involving Watson a few weeks before the murders:
“They apparently started being rude to her, saying things like, “Show us your tits” and carrying on. Scott was going on about how she was a real dog. At about that stage Scott started saying something to the effect of how they should have bumped her off.
“I can’t remember how it came up but Scott started going on about murder and how easy it would be. He started going on about if I wanted anyone murdered he would do it for me. He had this real evil look in his eye and he was very intense. It takes a bit to make me nervous but the way he was talking was making me scared. He seemed to have psyched himself into it.
“Every time I changed the subject he would bring it back to murder and murdering someone. I got the impression that if I had said to him, ‘Go and murder the girl in the pub’, he would have done it. I don’t remember him saying anything about how he would actually commit a murder.”
Another teenager told police Scott Watson tried to rape her while visiting her flat:
“I went out into the hallway and Scott followed me down. He stood in front of the front door. It was a large older style door. He said ‘don’t leave, don’t leave, why don’t you stay for a while?’ or similar.
“Scott then said, ‘come into a bedroom.’ I said no. I tried to keep things light and not antagonise him. I felt that if I antagonised him I could get into trouble with Scott.
“Scott carried on trying to get me to stay. He pushed me up against the wall and pulled a knife out from his boot and waved it in front of my face. He again asked me to stay. I again said no and he held the knife up to the side of my throat. He was speaking, going over, ‘come into the room’.
“He was sort of laughing/sniggering about the situation. Scott really made me feel uncomfortably and uneasy. I felt terrified. I had no doubt he’d knife me. He had nothing to stop him. He was serious.”
It was only when she screamed for help, alerting her flatmates, that she was able to break free.
When I published Elementary in early 2016, Watson supporters were outraged that I had concluded, based on his behaviour in the evidence files, that he was a psychopath. Two psychologists hired by the Crown for his parole hearing in late 2016 agreed with that diagnosis, finding that Watson enjoys (“positive effect”) “inflicting pain and distress” and that he remains extremely dangerous, even now. This from the Parole Board decision:
“Two psychological reports have been prepared by Departmental psychologists to assist the Board in assessing Mr Watson’s risk. They are the report by [Withheld], dated 29 April 2015, and that by [Withheld] of 2 May 2016.
“On the basis of information available to her, [Withheld] assessed Mr Watson’s risk of violent recidivism as very high. She also concurred with the assessment by [Withheld], who prepared an earlier treatment report for the Department of Corrections, that on the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version (PCL:SV) he fell within a group of offenders “who show an elevated rate and speed of recidivism, particularly relative to violence”.
“While acknowledging that limited information is known about his index offending, she identified: “perceived sexual rejection, ruminations upon revenge, positive affect associated with inflicting pain and distress, and a disinhibition through alcohol intoxication” as relevant risk factors.
In other words, he hasn’t changed.
In fairness, Watson’s legal team hired their own independent psychologist’s report. Unfortunately for Watson, his own doctor agreed he was a dangerous psychopath:
“For present purposes, it is relevant that [Withheld] refers to the reports by [Withheld] and Ms [Withheld] and says that: Given that these estimates of risk were made on the basis of evidence based practice using a combination of actuarial measures and clinical data the writer considers the estimates to be valid.”
A prison guard revealed a piece of Scott Watson’s “artwork” seized during a cell search:
I used to be one of Watson’s most vocal supporters. As recently as 2015 I was still telling news media in interviews that I believed there was sufficient reasonable doubt to make Scott Watson’s conviction unsafe.
Then I received a massive copy of the police prosecution and Watson defence court file. It shocked me to the core. As I turned over page after page I looked in vain for evidence that police had got it wrong, evidence that would back up my pre-determined view of Watson’s probable innocence. Instead, I found page after page proving his guilt.
The team behind the Herald podcast on the Watson case did not have access to that file. I do.
So let’s get started. Why do I now have no doubt that Watson is guilty of murdering Ben & Olivia? Because of the evidence in this 40,000 page file. If you want more expansive analysis you will need to read the two 350-page books, Elementary and Elementary 2.0, which condense the most important evidence. Additionally there are some kindle books with the extra testimony of key witnesses if that’s important to you. But if you want a selected highlights version of the real case against Scott Watson, then this is the right place. All I ask, even if you are a Watson supporter like I was, is that you approach your task objectively, like the Devil’s Advocate, or like a member of the jury. Put aside your own deep feelings on the case, put aside your own experiences with police or perceptions of them. Just look at the evidence and let it challenge your preconceptions.
One of the objections some people raise is the lack of bodies. It makes the job of detectives harder, but as Canadian prosecutor David Butt wrote for the Globe and Mail, it’s not rocket science:
“First, remember who is making the decision in a murder case. Almost without exception, murder cases are tried by a jury. Simple math tells us that the 12 jury members, depending on their ages, will have between three and seven centuries of combined life experience to draw upon when weighing the evidence. That is a very deep pool of wisdom, and it is the finest and most enduring feature of our jury system. This profusion of wisdom means the jury will understand that bad things don’t happen because of malevolent pixies or alien abductions. They happen for terrible reasons, tragic reasons, but reasons that are accessible to human understanding. The goal then, quite simply, is to provide an explanation for both the crime and the missing remains that makes sense.
“The second key to success in a murder case without a body is to tap the power of what lawyers call circumstantial evidence. Now, the world of TV legal drama has given circumstantial evidence a bad name. “Circumstantial” has become in the popular imagination a synonym for weak. In many cases nothing could be further from the truth. Circumstantial evidence is simply a matter of proving what we cannot see. We do this all the time. Consider an example.
“On a sunny winter morning, you look out your window at your favourite evergreen tree, in a sparkling expanse of fresh-fallen snow. In the snow to your left, a line of rabbit footprints leads up to the tree. You cannot see through the thick evergreen branches to what is behind the tree, but leading away from the tree on your right is another line of rabbit footprints. From this evidence, your conclusion is instantaneous, and confident. Sometime recently, because the snow is fresh, a rabbit ran through the snow on the very path made by the prints. And while you cannot see behind the tree, you are supremely confident that behind that tree are more rabbit footprints.
“That is the power of circumstantial evidence. It is accessible to almost everyone, and can allow us to know, with great confidence, a truth we cannot see with our own eyes. In a murder case without a body, the prosecutor must harness the considerable power of circumstantial evidence to help the jury understand a tragic death that cannot be seen directly.
“The third key to success in a murder case without a body is to eliminate alternative explanations for the disappearance. People disappear without a trace for a very limited set of reasons: elopement, kidnapping, suicide and murder. If you convincingly eliminate elopement, kidnapping and suicide, the jury will themselves eliminate the malevolent pixie and the alien abduction theories, and you will be left with murder.
“Eliminating the alternatives is a matter of focusing on particularly telling bits of circumstantial evidence before, during and after the disappearance. Let’s look at some examples in each of these categories. People planning on eloping permanently will of course need everyday things like bank accounts, credit cards and drivers’ licences. So if someone has disappeared without closing their bank accounts, and has left their wallet behind, they have not eloped. Likewise, an absence of mental health struggles and the absence of an acute personal setback before the disappearance will often eliminate suicide.
“Evidence arising after the disappearance is equally important. Abductors either kill or keep their victims alive to seek a ransom. Silence after the disappearance, i.e. no ransom demand, speaks powerfully. Eliminate suicide and elopement, and the silence means murder is staring you in the face,” says David Butt.
The legal test is not that every single piece of evidence must be strong enough to hang the entire case on. That’s not the burden of proof. It is only that each piece of evidence lends weight to an overall picture that the offender is guilty. That’s the test in a circumstantial case: do the strands of facts, taken overall, become a rope strong enough to support a conclusion of guilt?
Circumstantial evidence is about probability. It’s maths. What are the odds that this is the offender? How unlikely is it that someone else is the killer? How many ‘coincidences’ have to happen as you compare the different strands of evidence before you realise they aren’t coincidences at all: they’re proof of guilt. This is the job of objective commonsense. A realistic jury. You.
That said, let’s begin.
ITEM ONE: THE TRIAL VS THE ORIGINAL POLICE INVESTIGATION
The first thing I had to get my head around in this case is that up until now virtually all of the public record and public memory on this case is based on testimony given at the late 1999 criminal trial of Scott Watson, and how that was paraphrased and reported in the news media. If you are the kind of person who bases your opinion on a news report that contains only a couple of direct quotes from a witness, then think again. Journalists are not lawyers. They usually don’t understand the legal nuances or deep detail that is significant about witness testimony in a case. Journalists (and even more so the public) are often unaware that defence lawyers are allowed to ask leading questions in order to confuse witnesses or lead them to say something or agree to something that they didn’t mean to.
In the case of the Watson trial, the court evidence is what the conviction was based on and which has become the ‘official’ version of events parroted by the news media every time they dredge this case up. Attacking the credibility of the courtroom evidence is what every author and documentary-maker in this case has tried to do. And they’ve done it very successfully.
The Watson trial evidence was a dog’s breakfast. Attacking it is like shooting fish in a barrel. Jayson Rhodes and I did that when we co-authored the very first book on the Watson case, Ben & Olivia: What Really Happened?, published back in 1999. There were five main areas of concern we had from the trial:
Scratches on the hatch caused by a terrified Olivia, as police claimed at trial? Absolute rubbish. The scratches could only have been made when the hatch was ‘open’ because they extended right to the edge. And there’s no point clawing your way to get out of an open hatch. Watson’s family claim the scratches were made by his young nieces while they played on the boat, and I personally believe that. This should never have been used at trial, it is embarrassing.
The hairs in the bag allegedly containing Olivia’s DNA. The bag had a cut in it raising questions about the integrity of the evidence processing. Could Olivia’s sample hairs in the bag have fallen onto the bench and then stuck to the tiger blanket from Watson’s boat being examined later that day? If you do the science experiment it is actually very difficult for long hairs to fall from that size hole in a plastic evidence bag because the static charge keeps the hairs stuck to the plastic. Try it yourself at home – you will still be trying to shake long hairs out of the bag an hour after you started the experiment. So although the hair transfer theory is technically possible, the actual chances are so remote that I don’t believe the hairs fell out. Nonetheless, in the reasonable doubt stakes I wouldn’t want to hang someone if the case depended on that evidence alone. That’s why I deliberately left the hairs out of Elementary: Watson’s guilt should be able to be proven on ordinary circumstantial evidence without the hairs, and if you reach the end of this free book you will be able to judge that for yourself.
Watson was back on Blade at 2am, alone. From the court evidence of water taxi driver Don Anderson who recalled taking Watson to Blade, it appeared Watson had arrived back at Blade alone between 2 and 2.30am. This made him unlikely to have been the mystery man on the Guy Wallace water taxi with Ben and Olivia close to 4am. This problem gave rise to the so-called two trip theory, where it was alleged that somehow Watson must have gone back to shore and then caught Wallace’s water taxi back. That seemed unlikely.
The mystery ketch. Numerous witnesses were adamant they saw a ‘mystery’ ketch at Furneaux and again sailing out into Cook Strait on January 2nd. Guy Wallace was equally adamant he had dropped Ben and Olivia off to this ‘mystery’ ketch. There seemed to be too many people saying they’d seen it, and the official police line that it didn’t exist just seemed arrogant in the face of so many good, honest witnesses. If anything, this mystery ketch problem is the reason the Scott Watson case gained traction with the public. In refusing to explain ketch sightings, the police appeared to be calling the public liars. For Rhodes and I in Ben & Olivia, a confirmed sighting of that mystery Furneaux ketch (the exact same one) sailing out into the wild blue yonder with a man and a young blonde woman on the back on the morning of January 2nd was a verdict killer: how could there not be ‘reasonable doubt’? When taken in conjunction with the next point, the question of Watson’s innocence appeared to be proven.
Watson’s alibi – painting the boat at Erie Bay on January 2nd. This was the absolute clincher from the court trial. Three key witnesses – Erie Bay caretaker Zappa, his 13 year old daughter and ten year old son – unanimously swore Watson was painting his boat blue while moored off their wharf on January 2nd, having arrived there January 1st and he left on January 3rd. To me this was fundamental. From the court evidence it was obvious Watson could not be in two places at once. If the Zappa family were telling the truth (and I had no reason in 1999 to doubt them), if Watson was painting his reddish brown single-masted sloop blue on J2, he could not have had any direct hand in the disappearance of Ben & Olivia if they were indeed the couple seen on the back of the mystery ketch that same day miles away by Ted and Eyvonne Walsh.
These, then, were my main bones of contention arising from the trial verdict, and it is these main planks that have been highlighted by every book, documentary and news report on this case, including the Herald podcasts. It is easy to spread “Doubt” about Watson’s conviction based on what emerged in court.
However. What I did not realise when I reviewed the court trial evidence sent to me by Rhodes in 1999, was how much people’s memories had been corrupted between the time of the event on January 1st, 1998, and the trial 20 months later. Witnesses changed their stories, not through bad intent but through fading memories that defence lawyers took advantage of with their leading questions. What witnesses had originally told police when their memories were fresh, changed when they were on the witness stand nearly two years later.
When documentary and podcast producers re-interview witnesses AGAIN, 20 years later, they are running an even bigger risk of misleading the public (you) with stories based on false memories of what the witnesses originally saw.
Here’s a recent scientific report on the problem, reprinted from a quote in Elementary 2.0:
How much can you trust your memory? Not a whole lot, according to Daniela Schiller, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist. To a packed audience at MIT Technology Review’s 2013 EmTech conference on Wednesday, Schiller explained how research in her lab and others is uncovering how memories are tweaked each time they are recalled.
“This decade is the time of a revolution in the way we perceive memory,” Schiller told attendees. For the previous century, the accepted view was that once captured and stored in neural circuits in the brain, a memory could be retrieved but could not be rewritten. In that view, every time an experience is relived, it is the same, over and over.
Now, however, researchers understand that that the process of recalling a memory actually changes it. “Each time you retrieve a memory it undergoes this storage process,” Schiller told me over the phone the day before EmTech. That means the memory is in an unstable state, rewritten and remodeled every time it is retrieved.
“We don’t really remember the original; we remember the revised version,” she said.
So how much can we trust our memory? Probably less than most of us do. “Every day we create false memories,” said Schiller. Which means we put way too much faith in memory in the legal system. “You can influence eyewitness testimony just by investigating an event,” she said. And when you disagree with your spouse about the details of an event that happened 10 years ago, you both could be wrong.”
In plain English, when you all sat down to watch the Doubt ‘documentary’ on TV about the Watson case, with all of its newly-filmed dramatic and poignant interviews, you were being misled. The memories of many of these witnesses were already shot by the time of the 1999 trial. Their memories for the 2003 “Murder On The Blade” doco were false, and their memories today, recorded now for TV and podcasts, have about the same evidential credibility as the existence of leprechauns. Yet doco-makers and journalists have milked this case based on ‘fresh’ interviews with witnesses for the past two decades.
This media activity is #fakenews in the making, because with every retelling of the story #alternativefacts are being inadvertently created. And the media doesn’t care. Their mission is to sell advertising based on headline clicks. News is only ‘new’ if the quotes are fresh. But fresh quotes on old stories are usually rose-tinted and inaccurate.
Let me give you a classic example.
Author Mike Kalaugher, a Scott Watson supporter, interviewed an old man by the name of Reg McManaway on video.
THE MANY FANTASIES OF REG MCMANAWAY
As a classic example of memory fade in this case, it’s hard to beat Reg McManaway. Reg was skipper of a boat called Foam, moored at the Furneaux jetty.
He made several statements to police. The first on 6 January 1998 confirmed he could see a vintage blue and white ketch moored about a hundred metres directly off the jetty. We now know that was the position of Alliance, the boat many people including Guy Wallace mistakenly thought was the mystery ketch (more on this aspect later).
“I remember when we got there at about 3.00 pm on New Year’s Eve, seeing a ketch just out from the jetty. It was bow on to us and about 100 metres from where we were. We were tied up to the jetty.
“It looked like a timber plank boat and was an old model. I can’t remember specific things about it. I just thought it was a nice old boat and I thought it was funny when I saw a scruffy guy on there.
“I saw a guy come out on the deck of it. I didn’t see him ashore and I didn’t see him in the bar but there are four or five places they could drink.
“He was a male, Caucasian, about 32 – 34 years old, about 6 feet tall, brownie coloured hair. He looked like he had a bit of a beard around his chin and wanted a good shave up the sides. It looked like he was wearing work clothes like denim, not “go ashore” clothes. I just thought he looked a bit scruffy.
“As I said it was bow on to us so I only really saw the front but I thought it was blue.”
Key points, scruffy man on board with a beard, who he “didn’t” see in the bar. Off a ketch we know was Alliance.
Reg made his second statement to police on 11 Feb:
“As I have stated I spent most of the night in “Regs Corner”.
“I have been shown a picture of the missing persons Olivia HOPE and Ben SMART. I believe I saw them. I can’t state a time, but would possibly guess between 8-9 pm.
“They came through the french type doors on the far side from my corner. These doors lead through to the restaurant.
“They stood at the opposite end of the bar area, I believe that Guy WALLACE was serving at that end of the bar.
“I did notice that there was a scruffy looking male with them. He looked out of place with them. He was the same male that I described from the yacht.
“Both myself and Tim HAMLIN who was there with me in the corner commented on the scruffy bloke, because it was the same guy that we had seen from the boat. Tim HAMLIN had been on our charter for that day, I know Tim works for More FM in Wellington.
“I have been shown a picture of a yacht and I do not recall seeing this yacht at Furneaux.
“I have been shown the identikit pictures of the two males, they don’t really look like the male I saw in the bar area or on the yacht. The hair styles are different and this person had a beard.
“I do not recall seeing the yacht from the photos at all as I was doing the charters around the channel and sounds.”
The yacht Reg was shown pictures of was Blade, and McManaway told police he’d never seen it before. Nor did Reg’s mystery man look like Guy Wallace’s. And simply adding a beard to an identikit doesn’t change things.
On 6 April Reg gave a third statement, saying the scruffy man he’d seen didn’t come anywhere near Reg’s corner, again proving the irrelevance of Reg’s sighting:
“I have also been shown photographs of the inside of Furneaux Lodge. My corner of the bar is shown by the exit sign. It is known as Reg’s Corner.
“The male I described as being scruffy in my previous statement never came over to my corner. He stayed further over towards the centre of the bar.
“While I was in the bar I did not see this male in my corner.
“I have read this and it is true. R D McManaway (signed)”
So that was his signed evidence to police in early 1998. Take home points? His mystery ketch was Alliance. His mystery man didn’t look anything like the real mystery man. And he’d never seen Scott Watson’s boat in his life.
Knowing all this, Watson supporter Mike Kalaugher apparently expects people to take his video interview with McManaway four years after the murders, seriously.
Watch this comedy for yourself:
In that video, recorded by one of the supposed “leading” researchers for Scott Watson, old Reg suddenly insists he saw Scott Watson and his boat at the Furneaux Jetty around 7.30 on New Year’s morning, thus proving he didn’t take off at 5am with a kidnapped Ben & Olivia.
I have no doubt that in 2003 old Reg genuinely believed his memories, and that is why he came across so credibly on the video, as all these insistent witnesses do. They genuinely believe what they claim to remember, but their memories are as genuine as a three dollar note.
Reg could not have seen Watson or Blade. He didn’t know Watson and he didn’t know his yacht. He confirmed that to the cops on 11 February 1998 when they showed him photos. What he now ‘remembered’ in answer to leading questions from an amateur investigator in 2002, four years later, was entirely different. And wrong. In my view he was disgracefully exploited by a dishonest Kalaugher. The interviewer had the file. He knew what Reg had told police when his memories were fresh, but Kalaugher built up a false memory instead. Contemptible (and Kalaugher helped the producers of “Doubt”!)
That is just one example of the false memories plaguing this case.
And that is why, unlike my news media colleagues in print and TV, I based my latest books ONLY on the original signed witness statements given to police days after the disappearance. The witnesses were each required to read through their statements and sign off as ‘true and correct’. This wasn’t police twisting their words. Police didn’t have a firm suspect in the early days, they were simply sucking in as much intel as they could get, hoping that someone, somewhere, would give them a genuine lead. No interviewing officer would have dared twist their words because police were looking for info on all potential suspects and events – it would have defeated the purpose. Even after they hauled Watson’s sloop out of the harbour, detectives were still asking every single witness whether they had seen a ketch.
The signed statements given while memories were fresh, represent the most credible evidence in the Watson case. If this were a game of cards, my signed statement collection from January 4 1998 would be a Royal Flush, whereas a filmed 2016 video interview on the Doubt documentary would not even be the equivalent of a pair. Basing your views of the Watson case on earnest video interviews with witnesses filmed years after the event is a big mistake. They genuinely believe their memories, but their memories are wrong. They can sound very convincing, because they have convinced themselves, but they are utterly mistaken.
If you still can’t get your head around this go back and watch old Reg’s interview, then compare it to his initial police statements.
This then is the explanation of Item One, trial vs witness statements. The witness statements were fresh and credible, the later trial testimony (and much later media interviews) was half forgotten and confused – especially on timings.
Now that I have explained the approach, let’s see how those concerns I outlined above about the trial pan out, when analysed through the lens of the virgin witness statements. (I have already ignored the hatch scratches and hair evidence for reasons laid out above, so we begin with the rest of the points):
ITEM TWO: WATSON RETURNED TO BLADE ALONE AROUND 2.30AM
Watson supporters are outraged about this. They claim the Crown “ambushed” Watson late in the trial by raising the so-called two-trip theory. Defence lawyers had bamboozled witnesses into placing Watson back on Blade just after two. They achieved this by brow-beating a water taxi driver, Don Anderson, who recalled taking Watson to Blade alone.
The Crown argued this was irrelevant, because even if Watson had returned at 2am, he was somehow back in the bar at Furneaux Lodge at 3am getting into a fight with teenager Ollie Perkins after he joked about Perkins’ cancer-stricken sister.
Somehow, said the Crown, Watson had got back on shore and he ended up catching Guy Wallace’s water taxi around 3.45am.
I have written elsewhere about this being the Question That Scott Watson Supporters Cannot Answer: they cannot explain how Watson got to Blade if not by Wallace’s taxi. Even Watson admits in his North & South interview getting into a stoush with Perkins. Several members of the Perkins party were wearing watches and timed the altercation. Watson admits it happened, and half a dozen witnesses admit it happened at 3am.
There is no point in clinging to denial. The timeline of that scrap and its aftermath puts Scott Watson on the Furneaux wharf just after 3.30am, looking for a ride back to Blade. Even Watson’s biggest supporter, Keith Hunter, has said publicly in his book Trial By Trickery that he is satisfied Watson caught a water taxi ride after 3.30am that put him on Blade by 4am.
It is really easy for Watson’s legal team to prove him innocent: they just have to explain where he was between 3.30am and arriving at Blade at 4am.
That is the crucial time window that both I and Keith Hunter agree on: Watson had to have made a water taxi ride to Blade during the same thirty minute window that the mystery man was getting a ride. Scott Watson was heard waking up his neighboring yachties at 4am. The Mystery Man was dropped off to his boat at exactly the same time: 4am. It was just one of many coincidences between Watson and the MM.
You can read my in depth analysis of why Watson must have been on Wallace’s water taxi, here.
But that still leaves the two-trip theory. Did Watson return to Blade earlier? Well, yes he did.
In his book, Keith Hunter claims Scott Watson emerges from an analysis of the documentation “lie free”. That contention is about to be sorely put to the test, but not before overcoming the problem of the two-trip theory.
Scott Watson’s defence lawyers were outraged during closing argument in front of the jury when prosecutors suggested Watson made two trips back to Blade that evening not one. The argument was that he’d gone back to get a jersey and then returned to Furneaux.
The defence had made much of a trip back to Blade by Watson supposedly at 2am. If Watson had come back at 2am, they argued, he could not have been the mystery man on the water taxi at 4am unless he had somehow returned to shore unnoticed.
It would be fair to say that the two-trip theory remains the most problematic part of the case against Watson, not just because it raises questions about where he was, but because it also exposes other grey areas in the police case.
Let’s examine what evidence exists. In his first statement to police dated 7 January, Scott Watson said:
“At about 2.00 am I took the water taxi back to my yacht. It was a Naiad, yellow. It was driven by an old guy with a hat on. I was the only passenger. I remember he wouldn’t let me on until he had parked the boat. He kept telling me to wait. I don’t think I spoke with him.”
Police checked. The only “old guy” driving water taxis that night was John Mullen, and he wasn’t wearing a hat that night, nor did he recall taking Watson out.
We know Watson is either lying, or only telling half the truth, because firstly the people on Mina Cornelia were still on deck at 2am and did not see him return at that time, and secondly there were multiple confirmed sightings of Watson back in the Furneaux bar after that.
Security guard Michael Cronin, who had not been drinking while on duty, said the band finally packed up all their gear at 2.30am. He was supervising the garden bar and keeping a beer in the fridge for a man in a light blue denim shirt and jeans who was popping back every so often to retrieve his beer. “I would recognise him again”, Cronin told police, and then confidently identified Watson from a photo montage saying he wasn’t as clean-shaven on the night as the photo implied. He said Watson wasn’t causing any trouble on the occasions he saw him.
At one point he remembered seeing Watson talking to David Furneaux, one of Furneaux Lodge owner Rick McLeod’s security coordinators. Watson had told police he’d been speaking to McLeod, although McLeod denied remembering Watson. Cronin said Watson “had obviously had a bit to drink” by then.
He told police Watson left the garden bar area about 3am, where he’d been since around 1.30am. He didn’t see where Watson went.
According to a raft of witnesses, Watson was still in party mode, and came into the main bar.
There is no dispute from Watson’s defence that this was Scott Watson, so the descriptions are not the focus here—it is the timings and context that are important. These are the witness statements taken when memories were still fresh:
“After the band had finished,” Oliver Perkins told police, “a guy approached us in the bar. I hadn’t seen him before. He was by himself at all times.”
“I can remember about 3.00 am going over to a group of my friends were talking to a guy,” Ed Sundstrum told police. “The group of friends included Olli Perkins, Chris Bisman, Amanda Egden, Millie Savill. They were speaking to a guy called Scott.
“He said he was Scott from Wellington. I can’t remember exactly what he was saying but he wanted the girls on to his yacht. He was getting personal and obviously wanted them to go out there for sex. He was asking for sexual favours in return for going on to the yacht. I can remember him talking about Prozac but am not sure what he said. I heard the next morning that he had offered the girls Prozac t-shirts.
“At about 4.00 am I walked back to the bay where we were staying. I walked back with the English guys.”
Amanda Egden told police she returned to the Furneaux bar at 2.30am and ended up in a conversation with Scott about 15 minutes after that. He told her he had a “double-masted ketch” and invited her on it:
“I asked him where he was going on the Yacht and he said he was going to Tonga and all around the Islands. I told him that we could pull ropes on the yacht to help him sail it and to that he said ‘What, no sexual favours?’
“The way I understood his comment is that he was implying that if we come aboard the yacht it would be for sex.”
“I thought Scott was just some weird guy who was trying to come onto us. After we finished talking to Scott we walked back to the beach where Mr Fisher had dropped us off. That’s where we slept the night. We got to the beach at about 4am we did take our time getting back. The last I saw of Scott was in the bar.”
Chris Bisman was drinking outside the bar and watching his mate Ollie Perkins inside through the double doors.
“After the New Year we just sat around drinking until about 3.00 am. We were still outside on a park bench by the left of the front doors of the Lodge. There were still quite a few people around even though it was 3.00 am. The bar was still packed.
“My friend Olly Perkins was inside the bar talking to a guy. Amanda Egden, Mark Tapley and Millie Savill were sitting at a table. I just went in to have a drink and stayed inside… Later, while I was still in there, I saw Olly Perkins talking with a guy over by a table to the left as you walk in the door. They were standing near a table. It was the same table that Mark, Millie and Amanda were at.
“I went over to talk to Olly because he is my friend. After a few minutes I realised that the discussion between Olly and this guy was a bit heated.”
Perkins went outside with Bisman for some fresh air, and explained how it had come up in conversation that his sister had cancer, because Watson had called him a girl for wearing a necklace his sister had given him. Watson allegedly retorted, “she’ll be dead in two years”.
“I went back in,” said Bisman, “and by this time this guy was sitting at the table with Mark, Amanda and Millie. I sat down beside him and I discussed with this guy about comments he had made about cancer. I said to him not to say that sort of thing about Olly’s sister and he kind of agreed with me. When Olly came back in this guy actually apologised to Olly.
“By this time it was about 3.45 am or 4.00 am and Olly and I left and went outside. I had a couple more beers with Olly while the girls stayed back inside with this guy.
“I considered that he had been drinking heavily because he was kind of slurring his words. He wasn’t drinking anything when I saw him and spoke to him. He could have just been fairly drunk but he also could have been spaced out from smoking dope or anything for that matter. Nothing was mentioned about dope or drugs during our conversation.
“I’m not sure how long the other girls talked to this guy for but they met up with us a short time later and we all walked back to the bay and slept on the beach.”
Amanda Egden’s brother Richard estimated the total length of his group’s exposure to Watson was about an hour:
“I’m not sure what time it was when we first saw this guy. He would have stayed with our group for an hour or so I think. The whole time we were in the top bar at the Lodge. Most of us left the bar at about 4.00 am. We walked back to the beach where we slept.”
Independent corroboration of the timing of all this comes from Simon Bell, helping transport passengers on the launch Equaliser.
“We came alongside the [Furneaux] wharf at 0230 hours, some of the youths we were to pick up were not there so John Murray and myself went to the bar. At the bar John and I went to find the seven that were missing. We had a couple of drinks, there would have been about 100 people in the bar at this point.”
How much time does it take to walk up to the Lodge and enjoy a couple of drinks? Half an hour?
“An altercation then started between seven or eight youths hassling a single male. There was shoulder pushing and that sort of thing, the guy kept backing off, he showed no sign of retaliating or aggression, he backed into John Murray and myself. I stepped aside, let him through, then I closed the gap, as he was on his own and outnumbered.
“At the same time the Furneaux employees, two of them stepped in and spoke to the aggressors. The guy we let through pulled out his smokes and rolled a smoke. I could not believe he was so cool, calm and collected at this point.
“Soon after leaving the bar I heard someone say (one of the youths) that the guy had said something derogatory about his sister who had cancer or something like that.
“The guy, Male Caucasian, 5’6” to 5’8” in height, 70 to 80 kg, closer to 70 kg, straight dark hair, real dark, brushed around, touch ears down onto collar, 25 years to 30 years, no moustache, stubble. He was wearing a light weight denim shirt, sleeves rolled loosely to below the elbow, tidy blue jeans, faded, cross trainers, fairly scuffed. Had tattoos on forearms or back of hand that were faded, I did not see what they were.
“We grabbed the guys we could and then we headed back to the wharf. On the way we picked up other friends etc and we got on the boat and headed for Punga Cove. At around 3.30 am we left to go to Punga Cove with 25 persons on board.
“We dropped 16 at Punga Cove at 0403 hours and then we arrived at Bay of Many Coves at 0430 hours,” concluded Simon Bell.
Simon Bell’s evidence on Watson’s description is crucial. Watson’s hair was “brushed around, touch ears down onto collar…stubble”.
Much has been made of Watson being ‘clean shaven’ based on a photo. But this confirmed Watson description shows his hair was down to his collar, touching his ears, and that he had facial stubble even if the dimly-lit photo makes it hard to see.
On New Year’s Day just a few hours later, testified the 13 year old daughter at Zappa’s residence in Erie Bay, “I would say his face was prickly. He needed a shave.”
So if you are hung up on Watson being ‘clean shaven’ because of one low-res photo, get real: everyone who met Watson on the night said he had a five o’clock shadow, as did Zappa’s daughter. Are all those direct eyewitnesses wrong because armchair experts at home reckon their own second-hand analysis of a poor quality photo is more accurate? I don’t think so.
And Watson’s five o’clock shadow is exactly what bar staff reported on the mystery man. Although the identikit sketches portrayed the mystery man almost with a beard, barman Roz McNeilly told the court that was wrong: “it appeared to me that he hadn’t shaven for the day, he sort of had what I would call a 5 o’clock shadow”.
What all of this means, regardless of what any commentator argues, is that Watson’s movements between 1.30am and 3.30am appear to be fully accounted for, and they do not allow room for a 2am, 2.30am or even 3am water taxi ride back to Blade. The time between Watson leaving the garden bar at 3, going into the main bar at 3, pestering the teenagers for half an hour or so, and then making his way to a water taxi, is consistent with the timing of a 3.45am water taxi ride with Guy Wallace and only Guy Wallace. Remember, the sightings above are all confirmed sightings of Watson, taken not from choreographed court testimony 18 months later, but from police interviews just days after the event when memories were sharp.
No, if we are to find the gap where an earlier trip back to Blade could have happened, we are going to have to retrace Scott Watson’s steps earlier in the night, which I have done in Elementary.
We can trace Scott Watson’s movements at Furneaux right up to around 11.15pm, shirt beer-soaked, hair all over the place, and he reappears again just in time for the midnight countdown. He reappears apparently wearing a “new flash shirt”, hair “brushed”.
Did he cut back to Blade to freshen up? Watson’s defence insisted (as reported in Ben & Olivia) that Watson did get a water taxi ride to his boat—not with Guy Wallace but two hours earlier with water taxi driver Don Anderson. The only problem is, as we have now seen based on the first accurate timeline ever published on this case, such a journey was not possible unless Watson also returned back to Furneaux. He had to have returned because we can prove he was onshore up to the point of the fateful water taxi trip.
It therefore doesn’t really matter whether he made two trips, because we know he was in the right place at the right time for the only trip that did matter.
For the sake of completeness, however, let’s explore the possible window of opportunity.
There can be little question that Watson should have been waiting for a water taxi at the same time when Hayden Morresey, Sarah Dyer and Guy Wallace turned up.
But if that’s the case, how on earth do we explain this testimony from water taxi driver Don Anderson? Anderson had initially disavowed any knowledge of the mystery man, but he was asked to think again:
“I remember several days after Ben and Olivia went missing I was contacted by a Police officer [who]… asked me if I could remember taking a person/s to a boat called ‘Blade’…. I said I couldn’t remember, that I would think about it and get back to him. Later that day the same officer rang me back and I told him that I could remember taking a person out to a boat called ‘Blade’. I told him that I could recall taking a male person out to a yacht that this male person referred to as Blade. I’m just guessing but I thought that I did this trip at about 2.30 to 3.00 am on New Year’s day.”
Don Anderson was “just guessing” about the time. For the reasons already outlined, we know Watson was in the garden bar at that time, and in a clash with Ollie Perkins after that. However, timings aside, Anderson continues:
“The boat I took this person to is the one identified as Blade in the Police photograph dated 31/12/97 6-7 pm. The person I took to Blade would have been medium to slight build. He was wearing a denim shirt, a lighter colour than his jeans I think. He was wearing blue denim jeans. The shirt was long sleeved and had a collar. I can vaguely recall that he was wearing a T-shirt under the shirt. The clothes looked clean but the guy looked scruffy. He looked like he had 3 or 4 days of growth on his face and unkempt “curlyish” dark hair. It looked like he needed a haircut.”
In another statement Anderson put it this way:
I remember pulling up to the floating wharf and this guy was standing by himself on the wharf. There were no other people waiting for a ride but there may have been others on the wharf. I can’t recall. As I got closer to the wharf I could see this guy and thought he looks like a rough bugger, a fisherman sort of character.
“He had several days growth, not just two days growth. It was like quite a few days growth on his face like you got to the point where you thought about keeping it for a beard. He had a dark olive complexion not Maori but someone who had been in the sun or a hardened complexion.
“His hair was dark, more black than brown and his stubble was dark too. His hair was very unkempt like he hadn’t done anything to it for a very long time, it wasn’t really long. His hair was like the guy in the identikit picture that was in the paper, not quite as long as the one with the longer hair in the sketches. His hair was almost getting curly, like wind blown. He didn’t have a fringe, like his hair was off his face. He could have been receding but I couldn’t say for definite.
“I would say his age was between 26 yrs to mid 30s.
“He had a blue denim shirt, light denim and I thought a white tee shirt underneath. He had normal blue colour Levis jeans on but I don’t know about his footwear, I think it was more likely boots.”
You could argue his mind was simply filling in the blanks with the by this stage widely reported description of the mystery man, the boat Blade and Scott Watson; however his next comment is unique:
“I remember that he asked me politely for a ride out to his boat, which didn’t really fit his appearance. He was by himself and I said that we would wait until we got some more people. He said that’s not a problem and then I decided to give him a ride anyway. There weren’t many people on the wharf at this stage, and there weren’t any waiting for a ride.”
This aspect of Anderson’s evidence opens up a number of possibilities. If it was Watson (and there’s no guarantee it was), then the immediate question is what time could this be?
Although we’ve explored timelines, all Watson needed was a window of ten to fifteen minutes. He could even have decided to go back to his boat for something before actually leaving the jetty. Anywhere between 10pm and midnight is viable, because most people at the Lodge were hanging around for the midnight countdown and would not have been leaving before that. If Anderson was noting a lack of people wanting to go out to their boats, the hour just before midnight fits best—most of the boaties were already ashore, no one was leaving yet, except this mystery man.
On the other hand, between midnight and 3am there was a steady stream of people wanting rides out.
There are several clues to timing. Firstly, Anderson says he put on a ski jacket as the evening started to cool, but “I don’t think I had the jacket on when I went to the Blade.” In other words the trip was earlier rather than later.
The biggest clue, however, is physical. Look at this description of Anderson pulling up to Blade:
“The back of his yacht was facing in towards the jetty. The boat was rafted to two others. I pulled up on my portside which meant the front of my Naiad was pointing in towards the jetty. The male got off the Naiad and on the side of the yacht. He climbed over the wire rail running around the boat.”
When Anderson dropped Watson to Blade, the yacht’s bow was pointing out to sea and the stern was facing the Furneaux jetty. This indicates the yachts had swung to face the incoming high tide. The only time that could have happened was between 10pm and midnight, as a police file note discloses:
“In relation to the vessels on their mooring over the evening Mahony said that as depicted in the photo the boats were initially facing towards Punga Cove. By 11.00 pm he said that they had at least swung 90° and were facing towards the head of the inlet. The 180° swing had been completed by the morning and they were facing towards Furneaux Lodge itself.”
High tide was 10.49pm on New Year’s Eve. Low tide was 4.07am on New Year’s morning. When Guy Wallace dropped off the mystery man just before 4am the yacht’s bow was facing towards Furneaux as the tide raced out of the inlet.
“And you have told us that the bow of the vessels that you were passing were all orientated so that they were facing back to the shore or back generally in the direction of the jetty?
When Don Anderson says he dropped Scott Watson to Blade, the yacht’s bow was facing out to sea. Don Anderson’s trip to Blade cannot have taken place at 2am and it certainly could not have taken place as late as 4am. The evidence that Blade’s bow was facing the sea at 11pm, leaving “the back of his yacht…facing in towards the jetty” is incontrovertible physical proof that if Scott Watson did slip back, he probably did so between 11.15 and midnight to spruce up before the countdown.
The two-trip theory thus stacks up; it was possible, but much earlier than the jury was told, and the water taxi driver who’d made in excess of 100 trips to different boats simply got his timing wrong when trying to pinpoint this one trip.
The take home point is that somehow this person, who appears to in fact be Scott Watson on that pre-midnight trip with Don Anderson, arrived back at the jetty without security seeing how.
“You know you turn your back on someone and that is it,” explained another security manager, Neil Watts, to police.
Water taxi driver Robert Mullen said revellers seemed to have no shortage of rides if the water taxis weren’t around:
“The only incident we really discussed was a guy we took back to his boat several times and we couldn’t work out how he was getting back to shore. I had dropped the guy off at least two or three times and so had Anderson.”
So one of the big objections to the two-trip theory crumbles. “How could he have got back?” Easily, it turns out, probably by hitching a ride like everyone else.
Which gets us to the next question—does the two-trip theory rule out Scott Watson as the mystery man? The answer is no.
Bar manager Roz McNeilly didn’t notice the mystery man until after midnight, which fits this construction of a quick trip to Blade and back after 11.15:
“I think that the first time I noticed the guy I have described was after midnight. I certainly served him more than 5 times—it was like he was constantly getting drinks. There was a girl that was near to him that he seemed to be buying drinks for also. She was sort of standing behind him.”
She told police he was in the Lodge bar for an hour to 90 minutes, which dovetails nicely with Michael Cronin seeing him arrive in the garden bar around 1.30.
Barman Chey Phipps says he didn’t notice the mystery man at the bar until at least 11.40pm, and says he spent about two hours there. Again, this is consistent with the Watson timeline.
Guy Wallace, tired, busy and consistently dodgy on timing throughout his evidence, is the outlier, thinking it might have been much earlier:
“This person to the best of my knowledge turned up just before or just as it started getting busy. I guess about 7.30-8.30 pm.”
It was a “guess”. It started to get really busy after ten pm when all the boats were unloading passengers ashore for the New Year’s Eve countdown. Wallace could well have seen Watson who was in the Lodge bar solidly between 10.15 and 11.15, and from about 11.45pm through to 1.30am.
“I saw this male consistently off and on throughout the night. I called last drinks at 2.25 am and was told by Rick McLeod to keep the bar open. I can’t remember whether this male was in the bar then.”
Watson was out in the garden bar at 2.25am, but he wandered back into the Lodge at 3am to clash with Perkins.
“I next recall seeing this male was on the way down to the jetty with Hayden (Morresey) and his girlfriend. I can’t recall whether he walked down behind us and I noticed him by the “Hoby Cat”, a yacht which is by the boatshed by the bush line. I think he came over from the Hoby Cat. He may have been over having a leak or something. It is possible that he asked for a light. I recall that someone asked for a light when we were by the boatshed.
“When I first saw him I thought that’s the guy that had been at the bar. I might have even said to him ‘What are you doing down here’ or something similar.
“The only other thing I can recall as I have thought a lot about that night is that I think that this person introduced himself to me earlier in the night, probably as he got his first drinks. I can’t recall his name, but I am reasonably sure that he said he was from Picton. I thought it was strange at the time because he said he was from the same town as me and I didn’t recognise him. I thought I had mentioned that to someone—possibly Roz.
“As for who served this male, I have said Roz and I, but also Chey (Phipps) would have served him also. The main bar staff that served this male was Roz and I.”
So the mystery man, just like Watson, told Wallace he was from Picton. Who knew? As we’ve seen previously, both were smoking “rollies”. Maybe the mystery man even happened to mention when he first started chatting to the suggestible Guy Wallace that he was on a “double-masted ketch” and planning to go to “Tonga”. There was, after all, a guy in that bar saying such things. It would explain why Wallace came up with this in his police interview on 11 January 1998:
GUY WALLACE: “I reckon myself it’s on the way to Tonga.”
DETECTIVE FITZGERALD: Do ya?
GUY WALLACE: Yeah.
DETECTIVE FITZGERALD: Yeah well you’re dreaming.
Nothing of the mystery man’s movements is inconsistent with the known movements of Scott Watson, or a pre-midnight trip to Blade for a new shirt. Like the mystery ketch shadowing Alliance wherever it sailed, Scott Watson and the mystery man were both described in near identical terms, with the same kind of behaviour—although Watson’s was worse. Both men were in the same room, at the same bar, for hours. Yet they were never seen together. Eyewitnesses asked to report anything suspicious in the very first days of the inquiry filed incident reports repeatedly and independently tracking back to a man we can prove was Scott Watson, long before Watson was a twinkle in a cop’s eye. Yet if you take the current tortured memories of the Furneaux bar staff at face value, they never noticed badly behaved Watson, only his quieter doppelganger.
It’s a murder mystery with not only a shadow ketch but a shadow man. What are the odds?
Actually, it’s more akin to the old Hindu proverb about the six blind men who stumbled upon an elephant—each touching a different part. One, holding a leg, insisted it was a tree. Another mistook the tail for a rope and another the trunk for a snake. Was Scott Watson the mystery elephant in the room that night, perceived slightly differently by each witness but there nonetheless?
The final remaining question is why no one heard Watson return to Blade the first time?
Mina Cornelia skipper Dave Mahony was the only person left on the raft of boats including Blade and Bianco after everyone else had gone to shore. But Mahony had not returned to his boat immediately after dropping off Watson and the others at 10pm. “I didn’t wear a watch” that night, he told police.
Instead, Mahony’s inflatable was commandeered by two people who thought it was a water taxi. Rather than argue the point, Mahony took them to their vessels and then spent a further 20 minutes or so on a “tiki tour” around all the boats. He did not see the mystery ketch in his travels.
He was back on Cornelia some time between 10.30 and 11pm—remembering he did not wear a watch.
“I got back on my boat and stayed there all night. I was inside for most of the night and I remember it was quite a cool night. While I was on board our boat I just read, slept, drank coffee and that’s about it really.”
Dave Mahony told the court at trial that he also had the radio on. If Don Anderson is insistent that he dropped someone off to Blade, we can only presume that—between the radio and the noise of the rock band playing a couple of hundred metres away on shore—Mahony either didn’t hear it or that it possibly happened before Mahony got back to Cornelia.
So the two trip theory is proven, but it happened much earlier, before midnight. Yes, Watson did go back to Blade, but at a time when the back of Blade was facing the jetty. Dave Mahony on Mina Cornelia rafted to Blade says the sterns were only facing shore before midnight.
Why did Watson go back? Warmer clothing. He was getting cold like everyone else and grabbed a jersey. He even says in his police statements that he remembered grabbing a jersey. Both Roz McNeilly and Chey Phipps at the bar remembered the mystery man wearing a jersey – after 11.45pm.
In summary, I don’t have a problem with the two trip theory. It is not grounds for a retrial – and I know this personally because I won myself a retrial in a major defamation case and had my analysis of the retrial law upheld by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. The Crown was not required to prove all movements of Watson that night, only those movements that put him in the Guy Wallace water taxi. The Crown never had to prove how Watson got back to shore, provided they could prove he was on shore at the relevant times. The only trip that mattered was the one after the 3am stoush with Ollie Perkins. Keith Hunter says Watson must have caught a water taxi after 3.30am. I agree, and if you read the earlier link in this section you will see why Guy Wallace’s boat is the only water taxi ride Watson could have taken.
Objectively, if you look at the evidence with an open mind, Watson must have been the mystery man on Wallace’s ill-fated taxi ride.
ITEM THREE: THE MYSTERY KETCH
The mystery ketch haunts this story like the Marie Celeste – appearing here there and everywhere yet nowhere, crewed by modern pirates and drug runners – but no one can ever find it – and so-called witnesses knowingly tap their noses with a wink and dine out on seeing the ketch themselves with its nefarious occupants and ill-starred guests.
The Doubt documentary did a huge disservice to the case by making a big issue of random ketch sightings across New Zealand and claiming police never followed them up. It just isn’t true.
There are hundreds of ketch sightings in the police file held by the Watson family. Even sightings made by police officers, some of them highly ranked. What people don’t understand, and what the amateurs who made Doubt failed to make clear, is that double-masted ketches are distinctive boats. There are several thousand ketches in New Zealand, many of them concentrated in the marine playgrounds of the Bay of Islands, Hauraki Gulf, Tauranga, Mana near Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds. If you want to go trainspotting, find some railway tracks. If you want to spot a ketch, look out across any bay in summertime.
Hundreds of ketch sightings did not mean witnesses saw hundreds of different ketches. Everyone in the area can see and report the same ketch out on the bay, and at a time of huge public interest in ketches because of police bulletins, that’s exactly what happened. There were multple sightings of the same boats, day after day.
The fact that witness number 55 of ketch 32 in the file tells a TV crew that no one took their sighting seriously, overlooks the reality that 54 people had already reported that ketch to police before them and detectives had already ruled it out either by positive identification, or by the sighting being too vague – too long ago to follow up.
Ninety-nine percent of ketch sightings fell into the vagueness/too remote from the scene of the crime category. Think of it like a stone causing a ripple in a pond. Those closest to the splash have the best view of events, those much further away may think they have seen the ripple but instead it’s just an ordinary wave – random noise unconnected to the event in question.
The ONLY ketch sightings that genuinely matter in this story are the ones at Furneaux Lodge on NYE 1997 and NYD 1998 – those at the actual scene of the disappearance. The only addition I make to that is the sighting of the Walshes on January 2nd near the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound, as both witnesses were adamant it was the same boat that had been at Furneaux, thus providing a direct link between the crime scene and a supposedly fleeing boat.
It is crucially important, for those of you who watched “Doubt”, to bear in mind that the description of the ketch at Furneaux does not in any detailed way match the descriptions of the multiple ketches later allegedly seen at Mapua, or Pelorus Sound, or travelling around the North Island. I have no doubt all the witnesses saw ketches in the Sounds, but there is absolutely nothing linking their descriptions to the one seen at Furneaux.
The mystery ketch at Furneaux has been described as resembling a “Chinese junk” or “a barge”, distinctive because of a small “wheelhouse cabin” at the back of the boat. If you are one of the hundreds of people who saw a ketch that week, listen up: if your ketch didn’t look like a barge with sails, then I’m sorry, your sighting is irrelevant, the boat you saw was not ‘the’ mystery ketch. In Elementary I examined every ketch sighting highlighted by Keith Hunter as the best sightings of the mystery ketch. Every one. They all turned out to be the Alliance, an old ketch-rigged scow (a barge with sails) with a wheelhouse cabin at the back.
I discovered that police were the authors of their own misfortune on this mystery ketch, because they got the boat position diagram used at trial wrong.
The police boat diagram had Alliance moored out to starboard (the right) of the jetty looking from the wharf. In actual fact, as multiple photos taken on the day confirm, Alliance was physically moored to port of the jetty, right where all the witnesses recalled seeing “the mystery ketch”. So everytime a witness was shown the official boat diagram they saw Alliance labelled off to the right, and they told the court ‘yes I know about Alliance, but there was definitely another boat here’ as they pointed to the gap on the diagram where Alliance should have been correctly positioned.
No wonder there was mass confusion at trial!
Two entire books – Hunter’s Trial By Trickery and Mike Kalaugher’s The Marlborough Mystery – have devoted huge amounts of attention to witness testimony at court insisting they saw a mystery old ketch anchored just off the end of the jetty and slightly to port.
Yet photos confirm, that was where Alliance really was, that was the boat that became the mystery.
I have edited the original boat diagram to show where police had placed Alliance, and where the ketch actually was. Look at the picture, then read what follows.
Keith Hunter claims water taxi driver Robert Mullen saw the mystery ketch. Here’s what Mullen described:
“I can remember seeing a ketch that the Police have described. It would have been 200 – 300 metres off shore. It was basically straight out from the jetty. It could have been a tad to the left. It had dropped anchor. I can’t recall if any boats were tied up to it.
“Looking out from the jetty the boat “Nugget” was to the left of the ketch and closer in to the jetty. “Genesis” was anchored behind the ketch and slightly to the right of it. There was some fishing boats out as well, more or less in a straight line from the jetty but I can’t put them into perspective in relation to the ketch.
“The things I remember about the ketch is that it was quite large – it had dropped anchor. It had roughly five or six round portholes with white trim around the edge of them.
“I remember that it was white with a blue line but I can’t remember if the blue line went through the portholes. It wasn’t the “Alliance” or the “Toroanui”. I can remember seeing two or three people on there but I can’t remember anything about them. I made several trips past it and just remember seeing people in the cabin.”
Now let’s see which boat was moored off Nugget:
Call to police 5/1/98: Tony KIERNAN on boat “Nugget”, cellphone 025xxxxxx.
States: “I was at Furneaux on New Year’s Eve. There was a boat there answering the description given but it wasn’t a wooden boat, it was made of steel. It looks like it’s made of wood though. They were moored off us.”
That boat, as Kiernan repeatedly told police, was Alliance. So Robert Mullen was clearly seeing Alliance and not realising it.
Now see where Peter Kennedy says he anchored his boat Alliance:
“I had phoned the lodge to book a mooring two to three days prior. When we got there we were told there was no mooring for us. There were about 100 other boats there when we got there.
“We had to drop anchor. We did this about 200 m straight off the jetty.
“I have notified Blenheim Police of the boat names of boats I could remember from a faxed photo they sent me. I cannot recall any further boats since I did this.
“For the whole time I was down there I did not see any other boat that resembles ours in either era, style or colour.”
The official photo of moored boats clearly proves Alliance next to Nugget:
Robert Mullen, and all the other “experienced boatsmen” as the Watson supporters put it, were calling Alliance the “mystery ketch”
At the court trial, every argument about the mystery ketch off the end of the wharf was actually about Alliance, wrongly placed by a police diagram in a different part of the bay. It’s a miracle police got a conviction, but it is hard proof Alliance was the boat the witnesses and Guy Wallace were thinking of.
Tony Kiernan was very clear it was Alliance moored in the mystery ketch position close to Nugget:
Call to police 5/1/98: Tony KIERNAN on boat “Nugget”, cellphone 025xxxxxx.
States: “I was at Furneaux on New Year’s Eve. There was a boat there answering the description given but it wasn’t a wooden boat, it was made of steel. It looks like it’s made of wood though. They were moored off us. At about 0800 they dragged their anchor. They then circled a couple of times then took off. There were two people on the boat as far as I could see but I don’t know who or what sex they were etc”.
Police call Tony’s cell 6/1/98: On that cellphone number I speak with Brian DUNCAN who describes himself as a crewman on this vessel. …The only ketch they saw was a traditional scow with a large blue band (thought to be “Alliance”). DUNCAN thought it was an elderly couple on board this particular boat.
10/1/98, police typed copy of signed KIERNAN statement: “I have seen and heard the descriptions of the ketch the Police are looking for. I did not see anything like that that night. With the detailed description given someone should have seen it. It would have stuck out.”
10/1/98, police typed copy of DUNCAN statement: “I don’t recall the ketch as described. We actually thought that we had described the right boat to Police early on. It had a dark blue stripe and the name was in gold which was hard to read. It did start with “A”.”
5/3/98 police typed copy of signed KIERNAN statement: “About 7 am I heard someone calling out to a boat. Terry had called out to Alliance that she was dragging her anchor. I poked my head out, they had it under control. They left the inlet about then. What I mean is that they had moved and I saw them returning at 10 am into the inlet.”
26/5/99 police note: 26.05.99 1530 hrs Speak with following person to clarify a couple of points re CRUTCHLEY, document number 14066.
KIERNAN / Anthony
PhB (04) xxx
Re Job Sheet 30683. States boat is definitely Alliance as he has seen it many times since.
…Re ketches – states he heard Police description of ketch on VHF channel 63 but can’t recall when. Did not see any ketch that looked like that at all.
On hearing description, rang Police at Picton who asked if he had seen a ketch.
Saw Police at Furneaux on around 6 January 1998 and drew a sketch of it. Was also shown picture of waves, Toroanui and Alliance.
100% sure it is Alliance he saw.
Understanding why the mystery ketch did not exist involves taking a journey. Like electrons travelling through wire towards a lightbulb, there will come an illuminating moment.
As explained in Elementary, the celebrated ketch sighting is the one on the morning of 2 January 1998 of a double-masted ketch allegedly sailing out of Queen Charlotte Sound with a young blonde on the back who could have been Olivia Hope.
The previous book devoted a chapter to debunking this sighting, and it did to the satisfaction of most. But a vocal group continue to argue the sighting was genuine. Here’s how that debate plays out:
QUESTION: Why don’t you believe Eyvonne Walsh when she says she and her husband Ted definitely saw the mystery ketch around 11am on 2 January?
ANSWER: I have absolutely no doubt they saw a ketch. However, if you look at the description the Walshes and all the witnesses on their boat gave that I have reprinted in Elementary, and then look at the photos of Alliance in the book, it was definitely the vintage ketch Alliance they saw. She said it was the same ketch she’d seen off the Furneaux jetty—that too was Alliance, anchored off the Furneaux jetty.
QUESTION: But Watson supporters say you are wrong because Alliance did not sail as far north as the Walsh sighting that day, how do you answer that?
ANSWER: Firstly, go back to the descriptions in the book. For the supporters to be right, there would have to be two vintage blue and white ketches in the same general area at the same time, each with a distinctive Chinese junk style and a wheelhouse cabin at the back. There are no reports of any of the hundreds of ketch witnesses ever seeing two of these ketches together, or indeed two of these ketches at all.
Secondly, they cherrypick their evidence. They argue that the Alliance skipper does not record being in the precise position of the Walsh sighting, therefore it cannot have been Alliance. As most intelligent people know, witnesses in criminal cases struggle to remember accurately details that were relatively insignificant at the time. Seeing a distinctive boat that catches your eye, or a distinctive blonde girl on the back who catches your eye, gives your memory a reason to remember those details. but not necessarily others. There’s a birthday card I saw the other day featuring a well-endowed female walking towards the camera. Inside, the caption read “what colour was the handbag?” The precise location of a sighting is often neither here nor there, particularly in maritime settings in the absence of GPS. Experienced criminal investigators build in tolerances for such uncertainties, which is why at trial the jury was warned that times and precise locations could often be genuinely mistaken.
Thirdly, it has been convenient for Watson supporters to selectively quote the location evidence of charter boat skipper Ted Walsh, who reckoned the ketch sighting was at Cannibal Cove, instead of the evidence of Eyvonne Walsh, who says the sighting happened just off the point of Resolution Bay, further south. Let’s discover why this is important:
“On 2 January 1998 Ted and myself, along with my son Barry WALSH and about 8 or 9 friends, went to Resolution Bay in our launch “Sweet Release”.
“We set off at about 9.00 am for a fishing trip. We anchored just off the point of Resolution Bay when a ketch sailed past. It was the same or very similar to the one I have earlier described. I even commented about, “Here’s this Chinese junk again”.
“It was heading out toward Port Jackson under steam, not sail. It didn’t come out of Resolution Bay—I can’t guess as to where it had come from,” says Eyvonne Walsh.
“It was long with hatch at back. It had two masts. The most noticeable things were the portholes, they were dark blue and round—about five or six of them.
“The other thing was all the ropes were coming off the two masts—it reminded me of a sailing boat.
“I don’t recall anything specific about the people on board except to say there were people on it. I looked at the boat as opposed to who was on it.
“It was mentioned by one of the boys about a blonde woman being on the boat. Jokes were being made about we should chase it, etc.
“The boat was moving at a normal speed, however the water was cutting up and getting rough.
“After the boat had gone past us I didn’t look for it. We soon decided to move off and my attention was toward the fishing,” states Walsh.
Now here’s what the skipper of Alliance, Peter Kennedy, told police:
“On 2 January 1998 the Alliance left Punga Cove and it was decided to go fishing in the area of Long Island. We motored out into Queen Charlotte and it was a rough lumpy sea and the girls on board did not like the conditions that much.
“On the map you have faxed me we travelled out of Endeavour Inlet and headed towards Long Island.
“We would have got out just past the point of Resolution Bay to a point where the letter Q is in the word Queen on the map you have faxed me. At this point we turned around and motored towards Blumine Island. We spent about an hour at the southern tip of Blumine Island fishing,” confirms Kennedy.
So you can see the symmetry. Eyvonne Walsh says she saw the mystery ketch just “off the point of Resolution Bay”, and the skipper of Alliance says that’s exactly where he took his distinctive old-style blue and white ketch.
Mystery solved. It’s irrelevant where Ted Walsh says he saw it, because someone else on his boat independently puts the boat right where we know it was. Ted is not mistaken about seeing the ketch, he’s just mistaken when he places it several kilometres further north.
Ted’s confusion can be seen when he told police “At about 10.00 am to 11.00 am we were off Cannibal Point when the ‘chinese junk’ motored past heading towards Cape Jackson. This was definitely the boat I have referred to earlier in this statement as the ‘chinese junk’.”
We know Ted, an experienced charter skipper, is confused because there is no such place as “Cannibal Point”.
But hang on, I hear you say, how do you know Ted is wrong? Answer: it’s called the weight of evidence. Two witnesses who have never spoken to each other, Eyvonne Walsh and Peter Kennedy, independently agree on the location. Ted is the odd one out. A third witness, former All Black Greg Feek who was on the Walsh charter boat, makes it a slam dunk, confirming he saw the mystery ketch where Eyvonne did:
“This boat came from Scott Point and headed up to Motuara Island.”
Scott Point is the headland—“the point”—that marks the north head of Endeavour Inlet, and the south head of Resolution Bay. If the boat is coming from Scott Point it is sailing across the entrance to Resolution Bay, not Cannibal Cove. If Feek saw it come from Scott Point he must have been in Resolution Bay at the time, which backs up Eyvonne Walsh’s version of events.
Continued reliance on the Ted Walsh Cannibal Cove sighting, without acknowledging the Eyvonne/Feek/Kennedy evidence placing the boat in Resolution Bay five kilometres south and consistent with the known Alliance position, is dishonest.
QUESTION: But isn’t it really arrogant of you to say you are right about Alliance being the mystery ketch, when Warwick Jenness, Keith Hunter and their Maritime Research Group came up with an identikit of the mystery ketch based on 52 witness descriptions that looks nothing like the Alliance?
ANSWER: It’s not “arrogant” to prove a fact, it’s my job and it actually does you a favour unless you prefer to believe fairy stories. The MRG report and its committee-drawn identikit is not worth the paper it is written on in my opinion, and here’s why.
Firstly, only three people saw Ben and Olivia climb onto the mystery boat, in pitch darkness. The fact that 52 other people saw ketches around New Zealand that summer is irrelevant, unless their descriptions match that of the boat the couple climbed onto, or at the very least matched the description of a ketch actually sighted at Furneaux Lodge that New Year’s Eve.
Watson supporters are so eager to make a ketch—any ketch—fit the scenario that they’ve even dragged in ketches seen weeks, months, even years later hundreds or thousands of kilometres away and tried to seriously argue they are somehow relevant to the case. That’s not investigative work, that’s tinfoil-hat territory.
If you take a look at the MRG identikit, it’s a sleek ocean-going yacht that looks like a million dollars.
Unfortunately, the racy MRG ketch does not look like a barge, which is what the Walshes described:
“It was a ketch,” says Eyvonne Walsh of the vessel at Resolution Bay, “would have been 40 or 45 feet long, bargey looking, the front was quite pointy and the back of it was squarish but not really squared. I would say the back was a bit tapered. It had a cockpit at the back which gave it a Chinese Junk look to me. I could see clearly then that it had a deep blue stripe on a white hull. In the stripe were maybe 5 or 6 round port holes. I noticed the old fashioned rope work on it.”
In a statement on 8 January, Eyvonne had used similar terminology for the same boat she saw at Furneaux:
“I do remember seeing a ketch moored 50 metres and slightly west of the jetty. The ketch had other boats around it but because it was different it sticks in my mind. I didn’t see it arrive or leave, or any persons that were on it. I would say it was an unusual looking ketch. It was straight in the front with its main cabin at the back. I would call it a “barge type look”.”
Greg Taylor—a yachtie quoted by Keith Hunter as a key witness of “the mystery ketch”—told police he saw “an old ‘barge tender’ identical to the photo in the paper” steaming into Furneaux on New Year’s Eve afternoon.
Now look at the pointy, squarish, bargey Alliance and then see how other witnesses describe the Alliance:
“Whilst at Waikawa, Cameron’s yacht was moored next to a old vessel which looked like a barge with a large wheel-house at the end. This barge was occupied by two adult males, two adult females, two teenage females and a dog. Whilst at Waikawa Police spoke briefly to Cameron. I know that Cameron mentioned to them that he had seen the barge at Furneaux Lodge on New Year’s Eve.”
“The only ketch I recall was a barge type thing that had been a commercial boat at some time. It was never a ketch proper. It is moored on the same row as us at Waikawa. It was a purple blue hull with brass port holes. I don’t know who owns it.”
In fact Alliance had painted blue portholes, not brass, but you can see how easy it is for witnesses to convince themselves in error. The take home point is that people at the Waikawa marina, where Alliance was based, described it as a “barge” with a wheelhouse cabin at the back..
Faced with that description from the key mystery ketch witness, how on earth did Keith Hunter, Mike Kalaugher, the Maritime Research Group and a committee of 52 well-intentioned boaties come up with a meaningless consensus identikit ketch that looks nothing like a barge or a ‘Chinese junk’, has no wheelhouse cabin on the back and has shiny brass portholes, not painted blue ones?
Eyvonne Walsh, after all, described the portholes: “The most noticeable things were the portholes, they were dark blue and round—about five or six of them. “
They were “dark blue”, not shiny brass. And guess which boat has dark blue portholes?
Let’s take a look at a different view of Alliance, alongside the MRG identikit, at the same time as re-reading Eyvonne’s description:
When you look at Alliance from this angle, you are seeing it as Eyvonne Walsh and her fellow passengers saw it on 2 January 1998.
But Eyvonne’s story changed over the years that followed. At trial in mid to late 1999, the “dark blue” portholes had given way to “brass portholes”, and the sighting at Resolution Bay (a confirmed position of Alliance) had changed to Cannibal Cove, several kilometres further north.
The problem with a dodgy memory is that your brain starts playing Chinese Whispers with itself. That’s why I argue the police witness statements—taken just days after the event and signed as “true and correct” by the witness—were much fresher and more reliable than the court testimony 18 months later, and light years more reliable than TV interviews conducted five or six years after the event.
QUESTION: But the Walshes described the mystery ketch as an ocean-going craft. The Alliance is a scow used for coastal and river trade, so it cannot be the mystery boat.
ANSWER: The Walshes described it as a “barge”, but nonetheless in its former life as a Greenpeace protest vessel the Alliance sailed to Mururoa Atoll in 1985, so it was obviously capable of crossing the Pacific.
QUESTION: Why are you so certain the Walshes saw Alliance, not a mystery ketch?
ANSWER: The eyewitnesses, Guy Wallace and Eyvonne Walsh, insist from their memories that the ketch was not Alliance. But memories can play tricks or become contaminated.
Watch how Ted Walsh’s “mystery ketch” sighting—one we also promoted heavily in Ben & Olivia based on the courtroom testimony—crumbles when you examine the original fresh statements instead of relying on the court transcript.
Here’s what Ted told police:
“While I was taxiing across the Inlet I noticed the ketch anchored outside Furneaux Lodge. I have viewed a photograph and would describe the anchoring as on photographs 3 and 4. It was a way out on the outer edge.
“I passed the ketch a number of times but can’t remember seeing anyone on the ketch moving. I stopped doing the crossings and went home at 02.45 am.
“I suppose I came back over to Furneaux around 10.30 am. I don’t recall the ketch being anchored there. If it had been I would have seen it.”
Now here’s what Alliance skipper Peter Kennedy told police about his time of departure:
“We arrived at Furneaux at 1500hrs on the 31.12.97 and left at 1000hrs on the 01.01.98.”
And here’s what he said about its location:
“There were about 100 other boats there when we got there. We had to drop anchor. We did this about 200 m straight off the jetty.”
The same rules of deduction that demolished the Gray/O’Malley sighting also apply to this one. Ted Walsh’s mystery ketch was the Alliance as well. No one saw two of these vessels arriving at Furneaux in the same time window.
Another witness relied on by Keith Hunter is David McNoe who, while staying at the Pines, took his daughters waterskiing near Furneaux that afternoon:
“While we were doing the water skiing during the afternoon was when I noticed the boat with the portholes along the side. It was the sort of boat that took your eye. I noticed it because it was the only one that had portholes along the side.
“I cannot say positively if it had one mast or two. I remember that it had heaps of rigging on it. It was a predominantly white boat but I couldn’t say what other colour was on it. I remember it mainly because of the portholes. It was the only boat that had portholes out of the heaps that were tied up around the area.
“I would describe the boat with the portholes as moored more or less straight off the end of the jetty for Furneaux Lodge. There were a great deal of boats tied up around the area but as I say the one with the portholes sort of stood out.”
Straight off the end of the jetty is where Alliance was, 200 metres out. McNoe’s sighting, mid to late afternoon, corresponds with the scow’s known location at that time.
Eyvonne Walsh, Ted’s wife, had been physically stationed on the Furneaux Jetty from 4pm onwards. She says around about 8pm or 9pm she happened to notice a distinctive old ketch:
“I stayed on the jetty between about 4.00 pm to 2.30 am or 3.00 am. The only time I left was to go to Furneaux to get a cup of coffee for myself or Ted.
“I remember amongst other things that night seeing an unusual looking ketch in the Inlet. This boat was on anchor, near the Pines area but not that close to the coast line. It was anchored by itself and it looked to me to be in line with the point in the inlet which sticks out and leads to the Pines area. You can see this point clearly from the main Furneaux jetty looking back towards the Sounds.
“I would have noticed this boat between 8.00 pm and 9.00 pm. I can’t really be sure of the time.
“What made me notice the boat was the back of it. It had old fashioned type rope work which went to a point at the top of the masts. It was clearly visible from the back as you looked at it. I had a white hull with a thick dark blue stripe around it.”
Again, the Pines was about a kilometre away. Middle-aged Eyvonne Walsh could probably not have distinguished ropework at anywhere near that distance….but her line of vision from the jetty across to the Pines would have put Alliance—200 metres out from the jetty—smack-bang in her view. The boat had pivoted on its anchor in the face of the incoming tide, making its stern visible. Yes, just like the mystery ketch she thought she was describing, the Alliance was “anchored by itself”.
To argue that she was seeing a second, “mystery ketch” much further out, one would have to explain why she would notice the much smaller ornate ‘junk’ in the distance as opposed to the closer, bigger one which certainly had those same features. In the absence of contrary evidence, that boat she saw was Alliance.
Nonetheless Eyvonne Walsh continues to ring talkback radio insisting she really saw a mystery ketch in the face of the obvious evidence about Alliance.
Is there a scientific way of testing their denials? The answer of course is mathematical probability.
Guy Wallace found out about probability the hard way during his police interrogation. In several statements to police, Wallace had described the mystery boat as an old style “fishing ketch”. That sounded fine and dandy, until police did the probability calculations:
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: “Do you know how many fishing ketches there are in New Zealand operating?”
GUY WALLACE: No.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: “Genuine fishing ketches operating in New Zealand?”
GUY WALLACE: No.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: “Two.”
GUY WALLACE: Two.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: One that you saw operating out of Ohope Beach 10 years ago is that when you were there?
GUY WALLACE: Yeah.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: Yeah, 10 years ago.
GUY WALLACE: I was about 16, 17.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: Yeah, 10 years ago, it was a blue and white ketch.
GUY WALLACE: Called Huia or words to that effect.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: Well it might’ve been, it’s now called Sunnybar, could’ve been called anything then back then.
GUY WALLACE: Mm.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: Right?
GUY WALLACE: You reckon that’s what I’ve described.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: That boat has now been sold and operates now in Gisborne.
GUY WALLACE: Okay.
DET. TOM FITZGERALD: The other boat operates in Invercargill, they are the only two fishing ketches in New Zealand.
The odds that one of only two fishing ketches left in New Zealand, each based hundreds of kilometres away, was at Furneaux that night are therefore extremely low. Very interesting, also, how Wallace may have transposed his childhood ketch sighting of a white and blue fishing ketch onto the mystery boat.
Alliance was a 52 foot ketch-rigged scow, similar to a river barge with two masts. It featured ornate rope rigging on its masts like Captain Cook’s Endeavour, and a blue stripe along the length of its hull containing portholes, also overpainted by the same blue. At the back it had a distinctive square wheelhouse cabin making it resemble “a Chinese junk”. In other words, it was a highly noticeable boat and it was on its maiden voyage in the Sounds after a decade long refurbishment in the North Island.
How many of these are there in New Zealand? How many are painted blue and white, as opposed to white and blue, or red and white, or black and tan? Probably one. I don’t know, but it is a mathematical exercise than can be done.
How many do we know of in the Sounds area over New Year’s 1998? According to the police files, only one—the Alliance itself. According to official government surveys there were 10,000 keeler-size yachts in New Zealand in 1999, of which a smaller number would be ketches, say 2,000, and a smaller number of those would be the ketch-rigged scows. In fact, Auckland’s Maritime Museum states only six exist, mostly as museum pieces or stationary vessels.
There may be others, so let’s assume that six were available to sail in 1998. The probability of coming across a ketch -rigged scow in NZ waters out of all ketches that summer was 6 in 2000, or 1 in roughly 350 ketch sightings.
So of all ketches you are going to see, the chances of seeing a Chinese junk style scow was 1 in 350 at best throughout the whole of NZ. But we are talking about the Marlborough Sounds. Under random distribution, the chances of seeing such a scow in the Sounds might ordinarily be one in 700 ketch sightings (Marlborough and Auckland being large boating hubs), but in this particular case the Alliance was based at Picton so the chances of seeing an ornate Chinese junk ketch in the Sounds was actually quite high.
You see where I am going with this? There were numerous sightings of a Chinese junk because of the rare fact that one of these barges called Queen Charlotte Sound home.
Everyone says “we saw a Chinese junk that looked like a barge with painted blue portholes and ornate rope rigging and a wheelhouse cabin on the back, but we know the Alliance and it wasn’t the Alliance”.
Let’s test that mathematically by looking at the known facts:
If Eyvonne Walsh is right and the mystery ketch was not Alliance (relying solely on her memory), then there must have been two ketch-rigged barge scows off the same tiny area of New Zealand at exactly the same time, both with white hulls and a blue stripe. We know this because Alliance was definitely there at Resolution Bay, but Walsh insists she saw another one and didn’t see Alliance.
There are six such scows we know of. The odds of one being white with a blue stripe is one in six (because one definitely is). The odds of seeing Alliance in the Sounds might be 1 in 50 instead of the national average of 1 in 350, because Alliance was berthed there. But the odds of one of those remaining five scows being in the Sounds at the same time might be 1 in 700. However, the odds of it being not just in the Sounds but specifically sailing past Resolution Bay at 10am on 2 January 1998 at the same time as Alliance are astronomically small. Because this second boat could be anywhere on the surface of Queen Charlotte Sound at 10am, you break it down into grids for probability purposes. You can calculate by working out the square meterage of Queen Charlotte Sound (around 800 million square metres) and dividing that number by the square meterage of a scow (roughly 39 square metres) which represents an astonishing 1 chance on 20 million of a second boat being in that precise place at that precise time.
That doesn’t cover all the bases however, because the witnesses were looking at a larger area of sea than 39 square metres. Let’s reduce the odds to account for the fact their field of view for discerning a yacht was about two square kilometres. That’s 800 sq km divided by two, or one in 400.
Multiply all these odds, 1 in 50 for seeing a ketch rigged scow in QCS, 1 in 700 for a second scow being in the region, by 1 in six for the colour, and 1 in 400 for the second scow being off Resolution Bay and 1 in 400 for Alliance being in the same grid, and you have a probability of two of these identical barge ketches being there at 10am on that day at only one chance in billions.
Yes Eyvonne Walsh, it is technically possible your mystery ketch barge was not Alliance, but the odds against that are so remote that you have more chance of being killed by a meteorite in your sleep than there being a different ketch than Alliance.
Now sure, we can play with the numbers and get slightly different results, but nothing major. As someone has pointed out, coincidences happen. If all the ketch-rigged scow owners had been invited to a convention at Furneaux that day then you might actually see all six scows together, but such a happy event would not be random. And there’s something else to learn from that example. The key word is “see”: no one has ever claimed to have seen two of these unique ketches together. Alliance was definitely there but the Walshes insist they never saw it.
Was it daubed in Wattyl Invisibility Paint?
What are the odds of twin distinctive scows being there, and nobody noticing there were two? What are the odds of that happening not just once but three times—once as Alliance sailed into Furneaux allegedly at the exact same time as the mystery ketch, once berthed at Furneaux allegedly adjacent to the mystery ketch, and once at Resolution Bay as both Alliance and the mystery ketch sailed past at precisely the same time?
If you wanted to make the odds even more ridiculous to calculate, you could factor in specifics like ornate rope work and blue portholes, which are not included in the above calculations. Or you could factor in Guy Wallace’s insistence that it was a “fishing ketch” when only two such boats existed (one in 1000 ketches nationally). But even without that, the odds remain so long that they far exceed beyond reasonable doubt.
Just to give you an idea of how mathematically certain it was that Alliance was the mystery ketch they sighted (at odds of billions to one against it being another scow), let’s briefly consider DNA evidence.
A DNA match on forensic evidence is regarded as absolute proof by juries. Indeed, Watson supporters continually say that DNA evidence from Blade would convince them. However, DNA matches are also based on mathematical probability—how likely is it that this DNA could have come from someone other than the accused? The answer may surprise you. In most cases, DNA matches are regarded as solid at odds ratios from 1:200,000 up to about 1 in two million, where they tend to top out.
The same people who would happily accept a two million to one DNA match as “proof” that Ben and Olivia were on Scott Watson’s boat, are to this day rejecting a 30 billion to one match in favour of Alliance being the so-called mystery ketch seen on 2 January 1998.
On a mathematical probability basis then, it is certain not just beyond all doubt but to a 99.9999999% level that the “mystery ketch” seen by Ted and Eyvonne Walsh and their passengers on Sweet Release was Alliance, regardless of what their memories tell them. The odds are actually far higher than any DNA test in the world has achieved.
And remember this: identifying the mystery ketch as Alliance is just one strand of the rope eventually used to prove Watson’s guilt. The same probability calculations can be brought to bear on other areas of the investigation to ascertain the reasonableness of innocence or guilt, such as the coincidence that the mystery man and Scott Watson both told people they were from Picton, both told people they were boatbuilders, both claimed to have sailed their own homebuilt yacht to Furneaux, and both claimed to be at Furneaux alone.
The odds of all those being genuine spooky coincidences rather than manifestations of the same person are so ridiculous they don’t stand up to consideration.
Our entire justice system is built on the inherent human ability to assess probability, and it is far more reliable in many cases than forensic evidence.
QUESTION: But I listened to Eyvonne on the radio and she is definite on the facts.
ANSWER: No, she genuinely believes her “facts”, but her memory is faulty and contradicts known hard evidence. Three years ago, the journal MIT Technology Review carried a fascinating article on how we damage our genuine memories every time we recall them and talk about them:
How much can you trust your memory? Not a whole lot, according to Daniela Schiller, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist.
“We don’t really remember the original; we remember the revised version,” she said.
So how much can we trust our memory? Probably less than most of us do. “Every day we create false memories,” said Schiller. Which means we put way too much faith in memory in the legal system. “You can influence eyewitness testimony just by investigating an event,” she said. And when you disagree with your spouse about the details of an event that happened 10 years ago, you both could be wrong.”
And that, dear reader, is why cast iron assurances from Eyvonne Walsh, Guy Wallace or any of the others whose stories changed over time, are not worth a bean. This does not make witnesses “liars”, it makes them “mistaken”.
It follows—and intelligent readers will recognise this instinctively—that no matter how strident some Watson witnesses might be about what they saw, if their stories have changed over time, or if they conflict with independently confirmed evidence, then it is almost certain that their memories are faulty.
This is why the initial police statements provide better clues. They were taken when memories were fresher, and they lock those versions so we can compare later claims to them.
Alliance was the so-called “mystery ketch” seen by the Furneaux witnesses. There is a greater chance of you winning a first division lotto prize this weekend than there is of me being wrong about this. That’s not arrogance—it’s a statement based on mathematical probability.
That means there was no actual “mystery ketch”, which makes it certain in the context of all other evidence that Ben and Olivia climbed onto Scott Watson’s boat Blade.
Alliance was not the ketch seen at Mapua or in various other sightings around NZ (and I will come to those shortly), but it was the mystery ketch at the centre of EVERY sighting at Furneaux. I know because I have cross checked them. The details are in Elementary.
QUESTION: You keep going on about false memories, but do you have an example that doesn’t involve a ketch?
ANSWER: Yeah, the two trip debate. Keith Hunter says that Scott Watson only made one trip out to Blade and that was with an older water taxi driver John Mullen, not Guy Wallace. I’ve seen Hunter’s argument on that and I have also seen how—deceptively in my view—Hunter spends pages trying to demolish the two trip evidence without addressing the single most important point: John Mullen had left for bed by around 2.30am, as testified by a number of witnesses. He was no longer driving water taxis at 3.30am when Hunter says of Watson: “In my view he returned to his yacht just once, after 3.30 am.”
Hunter utterly fails to deal with this glaring problem, preferring to stick with a video interview he filmed with Mullen five years after the disappearance, where Mullen offhandedly thinks he was still ferrying passengers at 5am.
The statements proving Mullen’s memory failure are printed in Elementary. Hunter’s two trip denial is useless because it requires Mullen to be taxiing Watson an hour after Mullen had gone to bed.
As I said, Hunter pointedly ignores this timing issue, because he is fixated on what Mullen told him in a video interview for Murder On The Blade five years after the events in question. Fixated, because he believes Mullen corroborates a story Watson told police.
“The matter is addressed in detail in Trial By Trickery at pages 232-4,” writes Hunter in his attempted rebuttal of Elementary. “Mullen’s words to me matched perfectly the statements of Scott Watson. It was a connection absent from Anderson’s statements. I refer to these fragments:
WATSON: “I remember he wouldn’t let me on until he had parked the boat. He kept telling me to wait. I can remember getting on my boat. I remember the guy saying to me not to get into the taxi from the wharf. I don’t know what he was up to. I think he was making it safe for me to get off the wharf onto the Naiad.”
MULLEN [from his Murder On The Blade interview]: “Okay what we just been talking about was a person in the Naiad on that night at the end of Furneaux Lodge’s jetty who was intoxicated, a little bit agro, I think had trouble with, asked him to get out of the boat, because he was keen to get back and I would take him round personally because a lot of people were going different ways at that time and I took that person back to the boat.
“The boats were running shuttles to, of parties, two boats were trying to unload people at the lodge to get back to their boats. He was in the wrong boat at the wrong time and asked to get off and he was taking up space. Um, A little bit agro asked to get off, in time he did get off and I said I would take him back to his boat which I did myself. After a couple of trips where he sat on the wharf.”
“These seemed to me then,” surmises Keith Hunter, “and seem to me still, to mesh perfectly. If there were any hint of contact or collusion between Watson and Mullen I might change my mind, but I cannot imagine that such possibility exists. In my view the statements of the two trip contenders are sufficient to identify Mullen as the water taxi driver who carried Scott Watson to his yacht Blade that night.”
Unfortunately, Hunter had not done his homework. Although he had access to all of John Mullen’s police evidence statements he evidently failed to read them. It turns out we can see where John Mullen’s 2003 memory of an “agro” man in a Naiad came from—this statement he gave to police in early 1998 about an incident he remembered on Don Anderson’s water taxi, not his own:
“In relation to a male that Don ANDERSON and my son Robert had trouble with in the Naiads. I do recall this very vaguely. I do recall that a male had been told to get out of one Naiad to another. All I can remember that it was some bugger in the wrong boat. I can’t recall any times or description of this person. The only reason I remember this is because you mentioned it. It was nothing out of the ordinary.
“I haven’t got a clue where this male went or what he was wanting to do. I don’t know whose Naiad he got out of or got into.
“I think it was just a person who had a few too many beers and wanted to go somewhere. There is nothing else that I can remember about this at all. I wouldn’t be able to recognise this person again.
“I have not heard Don ANDERSON talking about this since then.
“The thing just happened and that was it. I can’t recall if there was any other people about or not. I guess the reason he would be moved would be so other people could get in the Naiad.
“With the time that has gone by since then, I can barely recall what happened,” admitted John Mullen back in 1998.
But here’s the thing: barely five weeks had passed and Mullen had already forgotten the detail (although at least he knew it wasn’t one of his own passengers). Keith Hunter wants you to believe that after five years John Mullen’s memory for Murder On The Blade was suddenly accurate and that this time it was not only a Mullen passenger but Scott Watson himself.
The irony of all this, the absolute cherry on the top, is that Mullen’s initial evidence to police unequivocally puts this man (who Hunter insists is Watson) on Don Anderson’s water taxi. And Hunter has spent the past decade and a half trying to deny that Watson was on Anderson’s water taxi!
This, then, is a classic example in the genre of how false memories evolve, from Mullen initially as observer in 1998, to becoming the participant by 2003.
What we don’t know is why and how John Mullen was prompted to remember this incident. In his alleged rebuttal, Keith Hunter writes:
“Here is the entire interview of John Mullen, transcribed in February 2003: John: Okay what we just been talking about was [Wishart emphasis] a person in the Niaid [sic] on that night at the end of Furneaux Lodge’s jetty who was intoxicated, a little bit agro…”
That doesn’t sound to me like the “entire” interview has been released, because in the alleged opening paragraph John Mullen refers to “what we just been talking about” and leaps straight into the memory you’ve just read. Clearly, it appears we are missing the set-up discussion between Hunter and Mullen. Did Hunter ask a leading question? We don’t know.
What I do know is that John Mullen’s entire interview for Murder On The Blade isn’t worth the videotape it was recorded on. It contradicts virtually everything Mullen told police five years earlier, and even back then he could “barely recall what happened”. Keith Hunter’s TV interview with Mullen was, for whatever reason, a triumph of flash over substance.
Hunter, as we have already established, agrees that Scott Watson got a taxi ride back to Blade some time after 3.30am. Although John Mullen initially thought he’d worked till 3.30 (and in 2003 extended it out to 5am), he actually left the wharf at 2.30 to go and organise a lift for his wife who was finishing at the Lodge. She departed on BillFisher with Ted and Eyvonne Walsh around 2.45am. Mullen followed minutes later in Don Anderson’s water taxi.
Mullen says he never saw Guy Wallace arrive at the jetty. Wallace took over Anderson’s Naiad.
Scott Watson did not arrive until after 3.30.am.
DON ANDERSON, 5 JANUARY:
“I recall dropping John MULLEN back to his boat, “Southern Comfort”, at about 2.00-2.30 am. This was about the same time Matt left the wharf.”
MATT WILKINSON, 8 JAN:
“When I finished on the boats at 2.00 am, Robert and John and Rachel were still working on the jetty. I don’t know if Don was still there.”
RACHEL VEITCH, 5 JAN:
“John was operating a taxi until about midnight and then he stayed on the floating jetty and I stayed on the hard jetty. From midnight it was the other three boys running them. John may have done a couple more runs after midnight but he finished work at about 2.30 am.”
RACHEL VEITCH AT TRIAL:
“Mr Mullen and his son Robert, did they work throughout the entire period you have been talking about…Robert did, John finished after midnight so prob a couple of hours after midnight, 2 o’clock and he was ferried back to his boat and he stayed there.”
JOHN MULLEN, 5 JANUARY:
“I worked right through to about 3.30 am when I was dropped back to my yacht by Don.
JOHN MULLEN, 8 JANUARY:
“Around 3.30 am I got a ride to my boat and don’t recall seeing any ketches, other than a steel hull one which is normally moored at Waikawa in the Furneaux Lodge area.”
JOHN MULLEN, 6 FEBRUARY:
“I would estimate the time that I finished on the jetty at around 3.00 am. I wouldn’t be able to be precise on that…
“The next time I came up would have possibly been 2.30 am to see my wife again. It would have been about 30 minutes before I went home. This was to organise our trip back across the bay to our boat. I ended up going across the bay to the yacht with Don in the yellow naiad.
“There was just me and him. When I got there my wife was already there, she’d got a ride with Ted and Yvonne WALSH on the ‘Bill Fisher’. I could only guess this time as about 3 am or there about…Guy WALLACE never worked off the jetty when I was there, he must have come down after I had left.
“I have been shown a picture of a yacht [Blade] (Photo 1) and I can’t say whether I saw it or not in the inlet while I was driving the naiad…I have been shown a photo of a male [Watson] (Photo A) and do not recall seeing this person at all at Furneaux over New Year.”
If that last paragraph from John Mullen doesn’t sink Keith Hunter’s theory, then I don’t know what could. Only five weeks after the event, police show Mullen pictures of Blade and Scott Watson. The response—never seen them before.
Yet Keith Hunter built a book and highly-viewed taxpayer-funded documentary around events that never happened, based on the faulty memory of an ageing John Mullen, and he expects the public of New Zealand to believe that Mullen’s memories after five years are better than his memories back at the time. Anyone for a Tui?
There is one final twist to the mystery ketch sightings: what about those at Mapua and around NZ?
These were highlighted in the Doubt programme, but they were based on the research of Mike Kalaugher and the so-called “Maritime Research Group” (Kalaugher was a consultant on Doubt).
The MRG made a ‘report’ which the police laughed at, naming an international ketch called the Antares.
I then discovered they had confused an overseas yacht caught up in a drugs investigation, with a New Zealand yacht of the same name. Their investigation was debunked here http://www.investigatemagazine.co.nz/Investigate/20897/mystery-ketch-in-scott-watson-case-antares-identified-not-involved/
I tore apart the remaining MRG theories here http://www.investigatemagazine.co.nz/Investigate/19865/credibility-of-scott-watson-mrg-investigation-destroyed-ketch-and-runabout-identified/
Although the runabout in the linked articles has not been positively id’d – the owner realised later that his timings were wrong – the basic criticism remains valid. The sightings actually describe no fewer than six different ketches, and to believe the Maritime Research Group you actually have to suspend commonsense and believe that at the height of a police search for a ketch in the Sounds, these numpty drug runners sailed Ben and Olivia in plain sight on the decks of six different boats for a week before finally doing them in.
It just is fantasyland conspiracy theory territory. And the MRG team were consultants to the Doubt programme. The movie would have been better named ‘Dumb and Dumber’.
The final, brutal blow to the credibility of Mike Kalaugher, Chris Gallavin and the Doubt programme was delivered in a Letter to the Editor to the NZ Listener, 6 January 2018. It deserves reprinting in full:
We deserve better than the so-called docudrama about the Scott Watson case (Doubt, TVNZ 1, December 17). The significance of the ‘mystery ketch’ has taken on legendary proportions and just how this happened is illustrated by the segment in which five local people are interviewed and describe a ketch that came into Mapua Channel at a time that appears to perfectly match other ‘sightings’.
Well, that timber ketch had been handcrafted by a friend of ours and he and my husband had been sailing it in the Abel Tasman. At Mapua wharf, it was immediately boarded by police and soon eliminated from their inquiries. It was distinctive and had a few similarities to the infamous ketch. It also had its Friesian name on it.
It came in and out of Mapua a few times with various friends on board. It has done a lot of sailing in its lifetime and was only recently sold. Over the years, its skipper and we have fielded occasional calls from Watson supporters and there was a further police investigation instigated by them.
Had the programme makers done their homework, we could have saved them interviewing the five people from Mapua and drawing up the accompanying diagrams and sketches.
I thought Chris Gallavin’s conclusion regarding the ‘different outcome’ had the police continued to ‘follow up’ the ketch was simply disgraceful.
Letter of the Week
It’s at this point that all of you who watched Doubt and believed law lecturer Chris Gallavin had got his facts right, should be writing to NZ on Air demanding that they get the $1 million of taxpayers money back from the producers. Get them to find out how much was paid to Mike Kalaugher for his consultancy work, and how much was paid to the Watson family. In my view you were conned by a deliberately deceptive piece of TV.
There was no mystery ketch. Only one witness told police he dropped the couple at a ketch, whose colours and intricate ropework he described perfectly even though he admitted he couldn’t see more than two feet in front of his face in the pitch darkness. That witness was Guy Wallace.
Wallace was a dodgy witness. He gave a signed statement to police about the ketch which he later was forced to admit was a lie. He also described the back of this ketch with its distinctive stern in great detail, only to later admit after the trial that he had made it up, that he had never taken his water taxi around the back of the vessel. Wallace was described as a sex pest to women, exposing himself.
Most recently, Wallace was caught out on radio admitting that the mystery man was indeed Scott Watson.
Wallace is the ONLY one who claimed there was a ketch, and his very first ketch sketch was a dead ringer for Watson’s Blade, if you took away the second mast.
How do we know Ben and Olivia climbed aboard Blade? It turns out to be “Elementary”, really. Half the country believes the couple were dropped off on a ketch, thanks in part to this incorrect #alternativefacts statement from Keith Hunter on his website:
“Fact 3: Only three witnesses saw the boat the missing pair boarded at the time they boarded it. One described its deck as being ‘chest-high’ to the missing pair as they boarded it from the water taxi. [My emphasis of Hunter’s comment] Watson’s boat is less than knee-high. The other two eyewitnesses both said Watson’s boat is the wrong boat.”
You can forget about attaching any credibility to the witnesses’ positive denial that Blade was the boat they saw. As I explain in Elementary court trials are 10% law and 90% theatre where witnesses can be led by the nose by good lawyers to genuinely believe things that didn’t happen. While I have no doubt that Guy Wallace, Sarah Dyer and Hayden Morresey genuinely believe it was not Blade, I am also satisfied that they are provably wrong.
Firstly, note Keith Hunter’s comment about the “deck” of the mystery ketch being at chest height. Hunter is not accurately quoting from court testimony here.
This is what the witness Sarah Dyer really said at trial:
“I know that when they reached up the height of the boat would have been around their chest areas.”
There is no mention of the word “deck”, her comment was based on just what they were reaching up to—the hand rail—the height of the boat. We know this because Morresey was asked:
“Once it came up to the other boat, did you do anything?….yep I grabbed the rail.”
In Sarah Dyer’s testimony, prosecutors wanted to be sure what she was measuring chest height against:
“You mean when they stood up … on the Naiad, the floor of Naiad?” asked prosecutor Kieran Raftery.
“ … yeah on the floor of the Naiad,” confirmed Dyer.
What does this tell us? Something really, really, REALLY important: when the missing couple stood in the Naiad as they prepared to board the mystery boat, the handrail they were holding onto was at chest height. Keith Hunter got it wrong, it was not a chest-high deck, it was a chest high “boat”.
So, how high was Scott Watson’s Blade?
Detective Landreth carried out measurements:
“While we were at Furneaux on the morning of 21st February 1998 I was able to take measurements showing the height of the deck and hand rail of “Blade” above the water line.
“I also was able to take the measurements of the distance between the top of the pontoon of one of the Furneaux Lodge’s naiads and the water.
“The distance from the waterline to the deck level of “Blade” was 54cm.
“The distance from the waterline to the top of the hand rail around “Blade” was 117cm.
“Both of these measurements were taken 24cm forward of the handrail stanchion that is immediately forward of dodger on the port side.
“The height of the handrail (above the deck) varies slightly around the vessel but is generally between 650mm and 660mm in height.”
So, the height of Blade as the Naiad pulled alongside (from the floor of the Naiad—sea level—to the top of the handrail) was 117cm. Chest height on an average person like Olivia.
If you are a Scott Watson supporter still convinced the missing couple were dropped on a mystery ketch, read the above paragraphs again: The yacht the couple boarded was chest high to those standing in the Naiad—just like Blade was chest high.
At the court trial, Hayden Morresey admitted he was able to rest not just his hand or elbow, but his whole forearm, on the deck of the mystery boat—a feat that would have been impossible on a high-sided ketch. here’s what Morresey testified:
“Did you end up basically with your hand on the staunchin around it and your forearm resting on the deck of the ketch?”
And in another section:
So you rested your forearm against the side of the witness box there, with your rt hand going upwards…..um um
And from there you were able to hold onto the lower part of the rail….yes
And your forearm was resting against what part of the boat….it is what you would prob call the buffer I suppose
Was it an edge of the boat or was it a fender or anything like that or was it…it was virtually yeah the edge of the boat
Can you rem anything about the edge of the boat or the feel of it…ah no not really
And you say you crouched a little just explain that you had been sitting obv on the side of the naiad up until this time…yep
Did you have to lift yourself up a bit…yes
About how much would you think you would have had to lift yourself up…oh prob 30 centimetres maybe, 20 centimeters
Did you ever have to stand upright to do this procedure….no
And why were you doing it…I was just giving a helping hand I spose
And then you showed us how you demonstrated with your right arm so you turned your body slightly have you towards the other boat…yes
The twisting around explains why Morresey had to raise himself slightly as he turned. it wasn’t the height of the boat, it was a consequence of twisting and stretching to reach up across to the rail as the water taxi came alongside.
Detective Landreth measured the Naiad’s size against Blade.
“The vertical distance from the top of the naiad’s pontoon to the waterline was 38 cm.
“This effectively made the vertical distance from the top of the naiad’s pontoon to the deck of “Blade” as being only 16 cm.”
Six to seven inches on a flat sea. Just a step from the rim of the Naiad to the deck of Blade, after an initial larger step of 15 inches (38cm) from the floor of the Naiad onto its rim. When they stepped off from the Naiad to the mystery “ketch” it wasn’t very far—but it should have been. Unless the boat was really Blade.
Let me re-emphasise the main point—if they had pulled alongside a ketch with four feet of free board, and a rail two feet high on top of that, Morresey would have been forced to stand at full height, rather than just twist around while sitting down.
While Wallace and Morresey remain convinced it wasn’t Blade, consider this: A ketch of 42 feet long as opposed to 26 ft long would have been a good 50cm to 70cm higher again (over their heads, rather than chest high).
Blade, clearly, was a low boat. Interestingly, that’s precisely how water taxi driver Guy Wallace described the mystery ketch—it was lower in the water than a ketch should be:
GUY WALLACE: Yeah but what is surprising about this particular one is that the middle of it’s not that far out of the water.
DETECTIVE FITZGERALD: Right.
GUY WALLACE: ‘Cos that’s what really struck me.
DETECTIVE FITZGERALD: When you say really far, when you say not that far.
GUY WALLACE: What they call a wet boat.
DETECTIVE FITZGERALD: When you say not that high you mean, it’d have to be at least, it’s a ketch it’s not small.
GUY WALLACE: Oh no no, yeah you’re probably looking at the middle of it about that high out of the water [indicates] ‘cos when they stepped off from the Naiad it wasn’t very far and I noticed I was hanging onto it from the Naiad and most boats you’ve gotta hold up like that [demonstrates] if you’re sitting in the Naiad and I didn’t, there was no strain at all.
The websites FreeScottWatson.Org and Keith Hunter’s HunterProductions both claim the couple were dropped off to a “high sided” ketch. Hunter claims in Trial By Trickery that the “ketch” had “freeboard of four feet”. But that’s not what the witnesses said and the website claims simply are not credible.
“What really stood out,” Wallace told private investigators for the Defence, “was how low in the middle, like the beams, the bow was quite high and the stern was quite high, but the middle seemed quite low, like banana-shaped almost and I think it would be a very, very wet boat to sail. There would be a lot of water coming on board.”
It was “low” because it wasn’t a big ketch, it was Blade.
You couldn’t just “step” from the side of a rubber dinghy onto a high sided ketch with more than four feet of freeboard and a hand rail two feet higher than that.
QUESTION: “How high were the sides of the vessel that you were up against in the location that you were in adjacent to it?”
“…In the location I was in, it didn’t appear to be that high,” a bemused Wallace admitted at trial.
You could not be a water taxi driver on a Naiad and just casually hold on to a boat with a railing six feet above, whilst remaining seated as Wallace told police he had done. But you could with Blade.
Sarah Dyer told the court her boyfriend Hayden Morresey did not have to stand up to hold onto the mystery boat:
“I remember Hayden grabbing hold of the other boat.”
QUESTION: “You remember Hayden grabbing hold of the other boat, can you remember what part of the other boat he grabbed hold of?”
“…No, I just remember him grabbing onto it.”
QUESTION: “Did he stand up to do that, or was he still sitting down or was he half way between the two, or what?”
“…I’m pretty sure he was still sitting down.”
So think about this for a minute: Guy Wallace told police he was able to hold the railing of the “mystery ketch” while remaining seated. Now Sarah Dyer who was watching her boyfriend says he stayed seated as well. Forget what Keith Hunter has told you in Murder on the Blade recorded years after the events—this is what the witnesses remembered closer to the time.
If it was a “high-sided” ketch instead of a low-slung sloop, then you need to come up with an explanation for why it was so easy to step onto in the dark:
QUESTION: “Did any of those 3 people have any diff getting out of the naiad onto that other boat?
DYER: “….no they didn’t.”
QUESTION: “Can you remember whether they just stepped straight from the floor of the naiad onto the boat or did they step up onto the side of the naiad and then onto the boat?”
DYER: “….um I know that they reached up to get on, I think there was a bit of a step but nothing too big.”
Remember, Dyer has qualified the “reached up” by saying “chest height”. And Blade was chest height.
Hayden Morresey, likewise, said it was “easy” for the mystery man and his two victims to step onto the yacht:
QUESTION: “From the floor of the Naiad as it were, did any of them use the side of the Naiad as a stepping position?”
“ … yes”
QUESTION: “From that position were they able to get on easily to the other boat or was it a struggle?”
“ … no it was pretty easy”
QUESTION: “Did all three of them get off similarly easily as far as you could see or not?”
“ … yes”
Keith Hunter, in Murder On The Blade, re-enacted the Naiad trip with Guy Wallace and Hayden Morresey. The picture of them easily stepping onto Blade is above, but compare it to the next photo of them clambering onto a 40ft ketch. Could you call this an easy step? Not only does Morresey have to fully stand to hold the stanchion, but the passengers have to climb nearly a metre higher than the rim of the Naiad—in pitch darkness:
Now look at Guy Wallace reaching up to the deck of the ketch in this next photo re-enactment from Murder On The Blade in 2003, remembering what he had actually told police five years earlier just days into the investigation:
“When they stepped off from the Naiad it wasn’t very far and I noticed I was hanging onto it from the Naiad and most boats you’ve gotta hold up like that [demonstrates] if you’re sitting in the Naiad and I didn’t, there was no strain at all.”
To understand how important all this testimony about the really low boat is, read this erroneous claim from Neville Munro, one of the admins on the Scott Watson support page:
“Not only was Blade 14ft shorter, it would have been much lower to the water, narrower, it’s overall volume would have been half that of the ketch. The biggest thing for Wallace and Morrissey is that the three people had a large step up to get onto the ketch, it was that high out of the water. If it had been Blade, they could have virtually just stepped across. How could anyone mistake that?”
If the “facts” that Munro’s argument was based on were correct, his argument would be sound. But as the evidence shows, there was no “large step up” to get onto a ketch because it was so high out of the water. “There was a bit of a step but nothing too big,” testified Sarah Dyer.
Bang goes that myth.
As I prove beyond all doubt in the Elementary book, Wallace’s dubious memories of the mystery boat had been contaminated by his memory earlier of seeing the ketch Alliance:
QUESTION: “When you went down to the jetty you could see some boats out there?
QUESTION: “Did you know the boat “Alliance”?
QUESTION: “And do you rem seeing that out there in the afternoon just off the jetty?”
“….yes I do
“So you had seen that well before dark?
“The “Alliance” fairly prominent in place just straight out from the jetty basically?”
“….yes it is pretty much more distinctive than any other boat there that night I think.”
Indeed, and Guy Wallace superimposed those distinctive memories of Alliance with its painted-over portholes directly onto his real memory of Blade, thus damaging a double murder investigation and sending conspiracy theorists like Keith Hunter into a spin for 18 years.
But here’s more proof from Guy Wallace that he was actually alongside Scott Watson’s boat. The mystery ketch, he told the court, had sides so low that not only could he hold the railing while remaining seated in the Naiad, but he was actually able to hold the top, horizontal, railing, not one of the vertical posts (stanchions) rising up from the deck:
QUESTION: “So did you hold onto the boat?”
WALLACE: “ … yes”
QUESTION: “What part of it did you grab or hold onto?”
“ … either the railing or a stanchion , it would be in that proximity”
“When you say a railing do you mean a vertical element or a horizontal element?”
“ … horizontal element”
“Of the rail above the deck, the safety rail?”
“ … that’s correct”
“You held onto some part of the safety rail to keep the stern in obviously of the Naiad?”
“ … that’s right”
Go back and look at the photo of Wallace reaching up to the deck of a ketch. There’s no way he could have reached the horizontal rail two feet higher than that, unless the boat was much smaller, like Blade, or his arms were four feet long.
Forget Keith Hunter’s inaccurate story of a six foot tall high-sided ketch—it didn’t happen. Guy Wallace says Olivia did not have to climb six feet, she just had to step up a few inches from the Naiad pontoon onto [Blade’s] deck, and hop over the two foot high safety rail as she did so:
QUESTION: “So she stepped first of all up onto the pontoon?”
WALLACE: “ … yes”
QUESTION: “And then holding onto the railings and in some manner or other stepped off the pontoon and up on to the deck?”
“ … that’s correct”
QUESTION: “Obviously having to go, climb over the safety rail of the vessel she was getting onto?”
“ … that’s right”
QUESTION: “And how long was taken by the three to step off the Naiad on to the yacht that you had got to?”
“ … it was a very short time, like one after the other”
QUESTION: “No difficulties encountered by any of them getting on?”
“ … no it didn’t appear so”
QUESTION: “And once the three of them were off the Naiad whereabouts did they first stand on the vessel that they had got onto?”
“…..just where they had got off, on the side of the deck”
QUESTION: “And which way were they facing?”
“…ah towards me”
Guy Wallace was exhibiting all the signs of cognitive dissonance—everything he was describing about getting off the Naiad quickly and easily onto this yacht was a perfect fit with Blade. The descriptions were utterly inconsistent with a “high sided ketch”.
Wallace testified the maximum time alongside the mystery boat was 30 seconds. Allowing for six seconds of mucking around as they steadied the Naiad, that means three people had eight seconds each to transfer to the yacht in pitch darkness. Easy if it was Blade; impossible if it was a big ketch they had to hoist themselves up onto.
Yet even when confronted with photographic evidence, Wallace relied on his dodgy memory rather than admit he had got it wrong:
“I then showed him a copy of the sketch of the ketch he drew when first spoken to by the Police,” noted a detective in March 1998. “I placed a pen over the portholes and my hand over the rear mast. I then showed him a photo of WATSON’s yacht. I asked him whether he thought that they looked similar. He stated that they looked very similar, but added that to take the mast and portholes out was too much difference and that he knows he dropped them at a ketch.”
This was the same Guy Wallace who famously said at trial a year after this when asked to compare Blade to his memory of the ketch: “about the only similarity is that it floats”.
Yet he had told the police much closer to the time, “that [Blade] looked very similar” to his own sketch of the so-called ketch.
What a difference a year of memory fade makes.
Because at trial, Wallace even admitted his memory could not be relied on by then:
“I am pretty vague about it. I actually couldn’t be sure. A photographic memory would be nice to have.”
So why on earth do some people still remain convinced Guy Wallace’s memory about a ketch is accurate, when smarter people long ago realised he’d made a horrible mistake?
Well, for a start at trial Wallace had by now convinced himself he had definitely seen two masts. But just 48 hours after Ben & Olivia went missing he was nowhere near certain: “I’m pretty sure it had two masts.” That’s because back then his brain was subconsciously trying to recall whether he’d seen two masts on Alliance—the ketch he’d seen in the daylight that he was transposing onto Blade.
This was the same Wallace that Scott Watson supporters insist “knows his ketches”. Well they might be sure, but back when his memory was better, he wasn’t. He never was certain he had seen two masts on the boat he dropped them off at.
In fact, there’s a very revealing admission from Guy Wallace in one of his police statements where he raises the possibility that his ketch memory did not originate with the 4am drop-off, but was triggered by a police question:
“I still have this picture in my mind of the ketch. I formed this picture on midday of the 2nd January 1998 when I was contacted by Police. I can only presume that I formed this image in my mind of the ketch from seeing it when I dropped them off. However I now know that a number of other people including the naiad drivers at Furneaux on the night did not see a vessel as I have described. So it is possible I’m mistaken, it surprises me that if a ketch like that was in the inlet that no one else has seen it. I just have this picture in my mind.”
Thanks to false claims being peddled in various ‘documentaries’ and media reports, many people now believe the three water taxi witnesses are unanimously agreed that Ben and Olivia clambered onto a high-sided big ketch in the pitch black, but the witnesses don’t say that at all. Hayden Morressey confirmed in court there was only one mast:
“As you looked at the boat, how many masts did you act see….the one just the one”
Nor, he told police, were there any portholes: “The boat didn’t have any portholes that I could see.”
Sarah Dyer was equally insistent:
“could you see any portholes at all …not that I could see.
“When they went to get off the boat, did they get off one behind the other, or did they all stand in a line side by side between you and the boat…I think they got off one by one.
“Were you able to see anything, even if you can’t describe it to us, but of that part of the boat that they were getting off onto, were you looking at it when they got off…Yes.
“So whatever amount of that boat you could see, you have told us you didn’t see any portholes…Yes.
“Did you notice anything about whether the boat had any masts … no”
None of this has stopped Keith Hunter from peddling a fantasy story to the public:
“One was a big boat and the other a little one. Especially important was the height of the deck of the mystery vessel above the water, compared with the height of Blade’s deck. Seated in the inflatable water taxi, Wallace and Morresey both had to reach up chest-high to hold onto the bottom of metal stanchions attached to the vessel’s deck.”
No they didn’t. You’ve read what the key witnesses said. It was a really “low” boat. Nothing in the witness statements from the water taxi trio comes remotely close to saying the boat had high sides. Wallace testified he thought he’d grabbed the top safety rail from a sitting position. His evidence conflicts with Hunter’s fairytale.
WALLACE: “When they stepped off from the Naiad it wasn’t very far and I noticed I was hanging onto it from the Naiad and most boats you’ve gotta hold up like that [demonstrates] if you’re sitting in the Naiad and I didn’t, there was no strain at all.”
Keith Hunter then concedes a very important point: he admits the yacht Ben and Olivia were dropped at may not have been a two-masted ketch, Wallace may have been mistaken about the masts. It is size he says, that’s crucial, not masts:
“Instead of a high-sided yacht that towered above the water taxi,” Hunter writes in Trial by Trickery (p122), “the country learned simply about a ‘ketch’, a yacht with two masts. You could easily look at a yacht and later count one mast as two, especially if there are other yachts in the background [Wishart emphasis]…The most memorable and identifiable difference between the boats was their sheer difference in size.”
And that’s where Keith Hunter’s false ketch description sinks like a stone in my view, because you’ve now seen the witness testimony for yourself. There was no huge ketch.
Wallace says he held the top rail while sitting down. If it was a four foot high deck with a two foot rail he would have needed to stand as Hunter writes. But Wallace told police he did not need to stand, because it wasn’t a four foot high deck.
Keith Hunter says there may indeed have only been one mast, that the boat may not have been a ketch at all. The real issue, he insists, was the size of the boat not the number of masts. Except now we know it was not a big boat either.
“He appeared to get off the Naiad quickly,” Hayden Morresey told police. “He didn’t pause or anything like that before he got onto it—like looking to see where he was going.”
Yeah, like you could really do that in the dark next to a six foot high ketch. There’d be a “dong” as you hit the hull and a “splash” as you hit the water.
Stripped of its second mast, it isn’t a ketch. Stripped of its portholes it’s not the flash ketch in all the docos. Stripped of its high sides, it isn’t big. What it is, is Blade.
Critics make much of the “fact” that three witnesses—Wallace, Morresey and Dyer—saw and felt a “big ketch”. You’ve now seen they didn’t. It was a small boat that no one had any problem getting onto in the pitch dark. Morresey said he was able to rest his arm on the deck—exactly the same height as Blade’s deck would have been. Morresey in his early police statements denied the boat had any portholes. Guy Wallace said he could stay seated and comfortably hold the rail, and he was considerably shorter than the 6’4” Morresey. Sarah Dyer said there were no portholes either, and that no one had any problem stepping from the Naiad onto the yacht’s deck.
So much for the “high-sided” ketch theory.
Morresey is firm in his belief that Blade was not the boat they went to because it seemed smaller. However, there are two problems with that. Firstly he only ever saw the mystery boat in pitch darkness where visibility was only a couple of metres, and he only saw Blade in photos taken in broad daylight which, as you will see below, made this near 30ft vessel look like a P-class dinghy. He was not even taken by police to see Blade for himself, so when he told the court it’s too “small”, remember he was working from a small photo. Second, as Elementary shows, Guy Wallace later admitted he had never taken the water taxi around the back of the mystery boat so no one on the Naiad ever saw the rear, or indeed the mystery boat in its entirety. All those stories about a “bulbous transom”, ropes on the stern and fishing lines? Imagination. Morresey was never taken to the stern so could not have seen Blade’s white canvas awning, making his differentiation of the boats on those grounds worthless. Morresey’s insistence that it wasn’t Blade rings hollow in the light of those caveats.
So, what have we learned from the Hayden Morresey evidence?
Firstly, he was not an experienced yachtie. As I mentioned, he didn’t see the whole boat in the dark where the visibility was only a couple of metres, so what possible credibility should we give to his identification of a daylight photo or TV coverage of Blade as being “too small”? He had not even seen the real boat up close.
Not being a yachtie, he simply assumed that a couple of ropes he saw were going to another mast, and so he came to believe the boat was a ketch. Yet, looking at a photo of the seized Blade, it is easy to see how the ropework in the dark might confuse a non-yachtie.
He does not state that the boat was made of timber, as some have tried to claim. He says he doesn’t know what it was made of.
He says that while sitting on the rim of the Naiad he was able to rest his forearm on the deck of the mystery yacht – which would certainly be the case if it were Blade, but not if – as Keith Hunter claims – it was a big ketch with sides four feet high.
Morresey confirms Olivia Hope and Ben Smart simply “stepped” from the Naiad to the yacht – no gymnastics required. Could they have done that in pitch darkness if the deck was a metre higher than the top of the Naiad rather than just a six inch step?
Really crucially, Morresey says the boat did not have portholes, and the only mast he saw was in front of a cabin – just like Blade.
What are we to make of his insistence that the mast was at the “back” of the boat? Scott Watson supporters say this proves the boat he saw could not have been Blade. Actually, it could, and here’s why:
The water taxi approached from the front. It never went to the rear of the yacht. Morresey, in pitch darkness, could not see the “back” of the boat. Like his guess about the masts, he simply assumed they had docked at the back. Yet we know the mast could not have been at the back, because Morresey went on to say the cabin was towards the back, and the mast was in front of the cabin.
Morresey didn’t see the white canvas lee cloth around the rear either, but if the Naiad had pulled up at the front port side of the yacht, then there was no way in the darkness that Morresey could have seen the lee cloth anyway – the taxi did not go that far back.
The water taxi, at 3.9m, was less than half the 8m length of Blade, and Moressey was sitting partway along the Naiad, not at its tip.
Nothing in Morresey’s factual testimony (as opposed to his opinions) rules out Blade as the mystery boat. Nor does his testimony provide any evidence at all in favour of a big ketch.
What have we learned from the Sarah Dyer evidence? Like Guy Wallace she agrees the mystery boat was low enough for Ben and Olivia to easily step onto in a matter of seconds. Wallace testifies he could reach the top rail whilst seated on the Naiad. Dyer says her boyfriend Hayden did it while sitting as well. Like Morresey, Dyer says there were no portholes. This leaves Guy Wallace as the only water taxi witness who claims there were portholes.
She did not see two masts.
Everything Dyer testifies about is consistent with Blade.
Only three people saw Ben and Olivia climb onto the mystery boat. The evidence of Hayden Morresey, dissected objectively, indicates it was a yacht of similar size to Blade.
Guy Wallace even admits in initial statements that Blade looked remarkably “very similar” to the mystery boat, yet he later told the court the “only similarity” is that they both float.
Of course, by the time Wallace and Morresey were whisked out to pose beside Blade and a random 40ft ketch for Keith Hunter’s Murder On The Blade “documentary” in 2003, five years of memory fade had set in. Suddenly it was a high-sided ketch. We’ve seen the science on memory fade in a previous chapter, and based on their original police statements there’s no question in my mind that the memories of Wallace and Morresey were rubbish by the time Hunter shoved a camera and microphone under their noses.
There’s one more fatal blow to the big ketch theory. The mystery boat was rafted up to other boats. Listen to Guy Wallace testifying:
What can you say about this boat that you dropped these 3 people to – first of all you have mentioned the boat being with others, how many others was it with…Anywhere from three to five, including itself.
So three to five boats tied up together…Rafted up yes.
How big was the boat, what type of boat was it, that you dropped these three off to…It appeared to me to be a ketch, 38-40 foot, very well maintained vessel.
Now Wallace should have known this, because most boaties do: big ketches are generally not rafted to other boats because their size makes lashing them together impractical and dangerous if the weather changes. That means if they were dropped at a rafted boat, it had to be a sloop in a group of similar sized craft, and rafting is done in a top and tail sequence side by side. The only raft in the location Wallace described was the one with Blade. If it was a raft, it cannot have been a ketch.
Newsflash: Ben and Olivia got onto Scott Watson’s Blade. The mystery ketch myth is disproven by the evidence. I’m pretty sure even Hunter knows his ketch theory doesn’t hold water.
Read more on this in Elementary.
ITEM FOUR: WATSON’S ALIBI – The Painting Of Blade At Erie Bay on 2 January 1998
This is the biggie. Watson claimed to have arrived at Zappa’s place at 10am on January 1, 1998. Zappa and his two kids originally told police it was about lunchtime. The importance of this testimony cannot be overstated. In a murder investigation, the whereabouts of the prime suspect are the core issue of the case. Does the offender have a solid alibi – witnesses who can say he was with them at the time?
In Watson’s case, his official story was that he left Furneaux about 7am and sailed to Zappa’s at Erie Bay, arriving 10am.
But Elementary reveals Watson never sailed to Zappa’s – instead he picked up an accomplice and sped to Picton, furiously repainting his boat as he went. He lied to police, and he lied to the public.
So what?, say his supporters, ‘that doesn’t prove he’s the killer’.
Well, actually, in law, it can. Scott Watson lied in nearly everything he told police about his movements after 2am.
This is known as a “false exculpatory statement”. In legal terms it is recognised as powerful evidence of guilt in criminal cases. This from a US lawfirm:
“False exculpatory statements as evidence of guilt
Upon being confronted by the police, many individuals tell a story that exculpates them, but that can be proven false in many of its particulars. Such false exculpatory statements are admissible as evidence of consciousness of guilt. The prosecution is entitled to an instruction explaining to the jury the inference of guilt that they may draw from the statement.
“In some respects, false exculpatory statements are more powerful evidence of guilt than a confession.”
People who say lying to police in a murder investigation is not ‘proof’ of guilt do not actually understand the law. It is proof of guilt, and that’s why offenders are read their Miranda rights: anything they say can and will be used in a court of law.
Back in 1999 I believed Watson’s alibi. I didn’t know the Zappa family had lied because Watson had threatened to rape the 13 year old daughter if Zappa didn’t help. (detailed in Elementary)
But I now know Watson’s boat painting alibi was a crock of the proverbial.
One of the biggest revelations in Elementary was that Scott Watson repainted Blade at sea, with an accomplice, on New Year’s Day en route to Picton, and that Blade was not repainted at Erie Bay on 2 January as he had claimed.
I reached this conclusion through careful analysis of the police files. They revealed that just after 10am on 1 January 1998, Blade was seen motoring south just past Kurakura Point at the entrance to Endeavour Inlet.
The sighting was made by taxi skipper Sam Edwards, who knew Scott Watson and Blade well: “On the 1st January at about 10.00am, I saw his boat again somewhere between Edgecombe Point and Snake Point. I’m pretty sure it was off Kurakura Point and he was heading south. I was heading to Ship Cove in Felix and when I passed him, I would have been about 50-150 metres away when I saw his boat. His boat was still reddy/brown in colour then. Scott was sitting in the cockpit and waved to me and I waved back.
“It was definitely Scott on board.
“I’m pretty sure that I saw a second person in the cockpit.”
A second set of sightings came from the boat Velocity, a 29ft sloop crewed by the Stevens family, who’d left Tawa Bay at Endeavour Inlet around 9.30am to head south past Snake Point and around into the Bay of Many Coves. The 9.30 departure time is confirmed by an independent witness.
Keith Hunter, in trying to explain away this Blade sighting, nonetheless agrees that Velocity would have been at Snake Point by about 10.40am, based on its 11.30am arrival at Gem Resort. Working backwards further, that puts Velocity off Kurakura Point heading across the entrance to Spenser Bay at around 10.15.
“I would have seen this boat shortly after 10am,” confirmed Velocity owner Terry Stevens in his police statement. Like Sam Edwards, he put Blade “somewhere between Edgecombe Point and Kurakura point” when he first took notice of it.
Please note—because Keith Hunter failed to—both the Edwards and Stevens sightings were at the same time and same location. Edwards knew Watson’s boat so this is a positive identification.
When Hunter says “there is nothing to link” the Edwards sighting with the others, he appears to be deliberately ignoring the time, the location, the description of the boat and the fact all three independent witnesses reported seeing two people on the yacht. In Hunter’s eyes that’s “nothing”.
Terry’s eight year old son Matthew was at the helm of Velocity when it overtook Blade, and Matthew says he saw two men on the deck and one of them was Watson while the other was sitting on the starboard side of Blade with something in his hand, although Matthew couldn’t see what. He described the other man as Maori looking. Velocity passed on Blade’s port side.
Terry Stevens told police he’d gone below deck while still 50 metres astern, and when he came back up was surprised to see his son had overtaken it. “My last recollection of the boat was when I last saw it about 100 metres behind us when it was near Spencer Bay. It was still heading South West.”
The overtaking clearly happened just after Kurakura Point and pretty early into the journey across Spenser Bay. None of this happened at Snake Point several kilometres further south.
Velocity was being followed by a yacht called Simply Red, and as they neared Kurakura Point at the head of Endeavour Inlet the skipper of Simply Red, Graeme Perry, says there was a lot of traffic heading out, “at least three boats overtook us.”
Two of those overtaking boats may well have been the launches Wild Honey and Cheers, travelling in tandem.
“It was approximately 10.00 am and we were near the head of Endeavour Inlet,” Wild Honey skipper Wayne Robertson told police. “As we passed Bull Head heading to Snake Point, we passed a fibreglass 30 foot sloop with a flat, low cabin. It was one I had seen earlier in the Furneaux Inlet. The cabin and sides were cream. It was motoring and had sail up. There was no wind there though as they were in the lee of the hill. It was being powered by a British Seagull motor.
“Just in front of it, about 75-100 metres away, was a yacht similar to the description of the seized yacht that I have seen in the paper. It was under motor.
“There were two people on board. One was steering it. I think it might have been tiller steering. There was another person on the port side. He had a paint brush in his hand, holding on to the side stays. Tony in “Cheers” went behind the two yachts and I went the other side. The yacht had to turn to avoid the wakes.
“It was then that I noticed the two colours. The colour he was painting was a bluey grey colour similar to the one in the paper. The original colour on the starboard side was pinky looking, like an undercoat had been put over red.
“It looked as though the port side was nearly completed and the starboard side hadn’t been done at all. When he turned it caused the person painting to lose his balance and swing out slightly.
“The person who was painting I would describe as male, race unknown. He was wearing very dark clothing. I only got an impression of him and couldn’t describe him at all. I don’t think he was very big. He was young, in his 20’s. Black hair.
“The guy steering had grey curly hair, possibly in his 30’s. I remember him looking at us. He was wearing lighter clothing, possibly grey.
“I remember passing comment to someone about, “He’s keen” and, “He better grab his paint tin” because he was about to get hit with “Cheers”’ wake and our wake. The yacht was a sloop, about 30 foot. It was hard chine. I can’t remember if it had a lee cloth.
“I think the guy steering might have been standing. I can’t remember if it had sails on deck. It was motoring. It did not have sails up. I can’t recall anything else about these persons on the yacht.
“Very shortly afterwards the ship “New Zealand Explorer” came past us in the opposite direction. It would have passed the yachts.
“We then passed the yachts, rounded Snake Point into Bay of Many Coves,” said Wild Honey skipper Wayne Robertson.
If you didn’t know how to read a witness statement properly, you could be forgiven for thinking this took place close to Snake Point. Go back and have a look at his opening statement however: 10am, at the entrance to Endeavour Inlet. Just like Sam Edwards and the Stevens sightings at the same time. Wild Honey and Cheers were launches travelling at speed. Their interaction with a yacht travelling at just 5 knots was fleeting and lasted less than 30 seconds. They were still four kilometres north of Snake Point.
None of this happened at Snake Point unless you ignore the evidence and/or you can’t read a map.
In a desperate attempt to explain the Stevens and Wild Honey sightings away, Keith Hunter has offered up a different boat similar in size and appearance to Blade. That boat was called “RB” and Hunter utterly messes with the evidence by trying to locate the Stevens and Wild Honey sightings at Snake Point instead of Kurakura Point four clicks north. Here’s what Hunter writes:
“The 30 foot yacht RB spent New Year’s Eve at Punga Cove, a mile and a half up Endeavour Inlet from Furneaux. On New Year’s Day, at around 10am she left Punga Cove for Ruakaka Bay.”
This is the first fudging statement by Hunter. Andrew Bateson on RB told police “We left Punga Cove the next morning, New Year’s Day, at about 11 am. As we left no boats were coming into the Cove.”
Fred McMahon, the owner of RB told police: “We saw in the New Year and went to bed at about 1.30 am. Later that morning we went to Ruakaka Bay. We spent the night there. From memory it was just my boat and Southern Endurance spending the night there.”
Others in the family group described departure as “mid morning”. Only one—Dean Gillies on Southern Endurance, said it was 10am. But let’s see how Hunter continues his theory:
“Ruakaka Bay is the next bay in Queen Charlotte Sound south of the Bay of Many Coves, where the Stevens family was headed. Depending on the accuracy of the departure times offered by those aboard her, she would have been off Snake Point at 10.30-11am.
“This fits the time the yacht seen by Matthew Stevens would have been at Snake Point. Matthew’s boat arrived at Gem Resort in the Bay of Many Coves at 11.30. The first thing his father Terence did was stock up on diesel. He paid for it with his wife’s credit card. The card details record that the diesel was paid for at 1142 that day. On their yacht, Snake Point would be 40-50 minutes from Gem Cove, where the Stevens paid for their diesel.”
Do you see what Hunter has done? Faced with proof that the Stevens overtook Blade at around 10.15 at Kurakura Point (where Sam Edwards had also seen Blade just after 10), Hunter is shifting the Stevens sighting to Snake Point at 10.40-10.50am. But that’s not the time or the place of their sighting. Hunter continues:
“RB was a one masted yacht with a red-brown cabin and a cream/white hull. She had a three-four inch brown stripe around her hull a few inches below its top. Her name was painted in the middle of the stripe. It is difficult to decipher in the photograph because it is in fancy, italicised , linked letters. You might describe it as ‘messy.
“RB has large windows. If it wore cream-coloured curtains that were closed an observant boy like Matthew might well remember them.
“There were four people aboard RB that morning, two men and two women.
“Scott Watson would have motored past Snake Point up to an hour earlier. Sam Edwards thought he had seen Blade here at around 10am. That fits the time it would have taken Watson to get there after he was disturbed at Marine Head in Endeavour Inlet at around 9am,” claims Hunter.
So many errors it is hard to know where to start. Edwards and everyone else saw Blade off Kurakura Point, not Snake Point. That means Hunter’s timings and locations are way out. Additionally, in the absence of actual evidence about curtains on RB, Hunter simply speculates that it did have them. He continues:
“RB fits the description of the yacht seen by Matthew and his father and the skipper of the Wild Honey in every possible way. Blade does not.”
Let’s look at this ridiculous claim in detail. It won’t take long.
The skipper of Wild Honey saw a boat being painted from reddish-brown to blue. RB was not being painted. It was the painting from red to blue and the painter nearly falling off the boat as it hit the launch wake that made Wayne Robertson notice it in the first place. Hunter is in la-la land if he thinks RB could fit that description. No one was painting that boat.
Eight year old Matthew Stevens, whom Hunter himself praised as an “observant boy”, describes a yacht with wooden deck in the cockpit with black stripes on the wood.
“When we were coming up beside it I could see some of the floor and the seats at the stern of the boat. It had black stripes going down towards the back of the boat on the brown wood. This was on the seats & the floor. I could see it was a keeler boat. It looked the right size for a keeler.”
I asked RB’s owner Fred McMahon if his boat had a wooden deck with black stripes: “No, not at all. Our boat was completely fibreglass, painted white. We never repainted the boat.”
Blade, on the other hand, did have wooden decking with black stripes.
There weren’t just two men aboard RB, there were two women as well. Matt Stevens and Wayne Robertson only saw two men, but Hunter suggests the women were in the galley doing errands for the menfolk:
“The two women, must have been in its cabin, perhaps making coffee for the men.”
Matt Stevens thought one of the men was Maori.
Was anyone onboard RB of Maori appearance?
“No,” said Fred McMahon, “we were all Caucasian”.
Wayne Robertson on Wild Honey described the boat he saw as “hard chine” design, but RB was not hard chine. Blade was.
Matt Stevens described it as having a brown gunwale (like Blade): “There was one brown stripe that went from the front to the back at the top of the hull. The stripe was about 3 inches wide.”
RB did not have a brown stripe at the top of the hull, but instead about a third of the way down.
Hunter linked Matthew Stevens seeing a “name” he couldn’t read to the stripe on the side of RB. But RB’s name was just that, the letters R and B. Not too difficult even for an eight year old. Matt’s police statement however says nothing about seeing a name on the stripe specifically.
“I saw a name but it was all joined together and messy.”
The name Blade was not on the boat, but it carried a life-ring prominently at the stern with the name Caravel written in stylised italic script, which people often assumed was the yacht’s name.
The Stevens family, who had sailed up behind the boat and then overtaken it, said it was on its own. So it could not have been RB they saw as that yacht was travelling in tandem with Southern Endurance. The Stevens family would have overtaken two yachts, not one. But they didn’t.
Undeterred, Keith Hunter seizes hold of Wayne Robertson’s evidence about seeing two boats. In Elementary I argued Wayne could have seen Velocity coming up behind Blade, which fits with the Simply Red evidence about being overtaken by several boats at that time, but Hunter wants to argue it was Southern Endurance behind RB.
Does that stack up? No. Southern Endurance was blue and white. Its cockpit area was blue, and it was not being powered by a British Seagull motor. Nor was RB. Both had built-in diesels.
So we now know that RB matches the boat the witnesses saw “in every way”. Not! Bang goes another Keith Hunter theory in the Watson case.
By far the biggest problem with his scenario however is the timing. If RB and Southern Endurance had left Punga Cove at 10am, they would not have been off Kurakura Point until close to 11am—nearly a full hour after the three Blade sightings at just after 10am.
If in fact RB did not leave Punga until 11am as a witness states, then the sighting time shifts close to midday. RB could not have been—on either of these timings—the boat seen by Sam Edwards, Terrence and Matthew Stevens, or Wayne Robertson at 10am. It was not possible.
None of these facts get in the way of Keith Hunter’s #fakenews ‘story’, however:
“RB is the yacht Matthew, his father and the Wild Honey skipper saw that morning. She was not being painted.
“Wishart’s book relies completely on his claim that a yacht with two men aboard was seen being painted while motoring down Queen Charlotte Sound on New Year’s morning and that the yacht was Blade. It provides the climax to his book, his ‘Cracking the Case.’
“But all it cracks is a very large egg.
“His claims are false. His book is an odious fake.”
I should add that Keith Hunter’s calculations, whilst delivered with stinging rhetoric, were nonetheless based on the navigationally-challenged Hunter’s certainty that Kurakura Point was south of Snake Point:
“There is utterly no question,” spluttered Hunter, “that when Sam Edwards saw Blade off Kurakura Point at about at 10am she was ‘still reddy/brown’. There is utterly no question that Kurakura Point is south of Snake Point. There is utterly no question that since Kurakura Point is south of Snake Point, then when Sam Edwards saw Blade at Kurakura Point she had already gone past Snake Point. There is utterly no question that at Snake Point the painting odyssey was halfway through and Blade is supposed to have been half-blue. There is utterly no question that when Sam Edwards saw Blade off Kurakura Point she should have been not reddy/brown but more blue than half-blue, unless Kurakura Point is rich with reverse-time bubble universes. There is utterly no question that Wishart’s claims are again false.”
If Keith Hunter can’t even read a map, why on earth would you rely on his “investigative” “journalism”? His attempted rebuttal of the painting sightings is confused and error-laden.
Besides which, Hunter avoided the point. The boat was being painted one side at a time. Witnesses seeing different sides would see different colours and different stages of completion. It is possible eight year old Matthew did see a bit of primer or blue paint but didn’t understand the significance due to his age, because he told police:
“Sonya has just shown me a picture of a blue and white boat (Ten-one Police magazine no 158, dated 23 January 1998). It looks like the boat that I saw with the 2 men on it, except I think it had a brown stripe and I don’t think it had much [my emphasis] blue on it.
“From looking at the picture (Ten-one) we were on the port side of the boat and I was overtaking it and I could see through the safety line where the cloth finishes and where the gap is.”
Keith Hunter’s bottom line on the boat painting is that Wayne Robertson was just plain wrong when he described a man almost fall off Blade while painting it. There was no painting, he insists. His only support for this line of reasoning is that although others noticed the boat, they didn’t see anyone painting. But given this was two launches shooting past a yacht at speed, it falls into the ‘don’t blink you’ll miss it category’.
The fact that other witnesses weren’t spinning their heads doesn’t negate what Robertson saw. The police file is full of statements from people who “didn’t see anything”. Most of the passengers on Ted Walsh’s charter boat never saw “the mystery ketch” sail past. Hayden Morresey and Sarah Dyer said they never noticed the mystery man’s face, yet they sat beside him for five minutes in a water taxi. To rebut Robertson’s painting evidence would require a fellow witness to make a positive assertion to the contrary, say, “I watched that boat like a hawk and no one was painting”. But there is no such positive rebuttal. Other witnesses didn’t notice because they were doing other things.
Keith Hunter’s denial of the painting sighting was doomed, regardless. The Executioner’s blade was wielded by none other than a star witness for Hunter, Ted Walsh. Here’s proof that Blade was repainted on New Year’s Day, and it arrived in Picton at a time Hunter insists it was at Erie Bay:
“I have just viewed a photo of two boats one red/brown before 1 January 1998 and one blue after 1 January 1998,” Walsh told police on 30 January 1998. “This was definitely not the boat, which I have referred to in this statement as the ‘chinese junk’.
“I can’t recall seeing the boat in this photo in Endeavour Inlet or at Furneaux during New Year’s Eve. However on the 01.01.98 I was with Eyvonne in Waikawa Bay around 2.30 pm. This timing is dependent on when I fuelled up. I used a Caltex fuel card which presently is with Eyvonne. What I am about to tell you I have discussed this with Eyvonne and this is my scenario. I believe it was Waikawa Bay because I was going too slow, normally the Bill Fisher would be travelling with speed.
“I saw the boat in that photo being painted from the red/brown to the blue. The colours in the photo are the ones I saw, the front half of the cabin was red and the back was blue. The guy painting had no shirt on, medium build, wiry, untidy longish/bulky curly black hair around 30-35 years. He wore shorts (unknown colour). He had something in his hand but seemed to have more paint on his hands than on the boat. It struck me that it was odd on New Year’s Day to be painting the boat. It was a good day and he should have been sailing.
“It is definitely the boat in the photo. I have never seen the owner of this boat or even the yacht itself prior to this sighting. Because of the news coverage I know it’s owned by a guy WATSON.
“Once again this was a passing thing and I only took note of it because Eyvonne commented. I haven’t seen this yacht since.
“I have been shown two sketches of a male, the person painting the boat was similar to the larger sketch. The person painting the boat may have had slightly long hair.
“I have read this and it is true and correct.
“(Signed) E C Walsh.”
The impact of Ted Walsh’s statement is massive. He proves Blade was in Picton on 1 January, shortly after the apparent body-disposal sighting in a secluded Picton bay. He proves Blade was being repainted red to blue, confirming Wayne Robertson’s sighting of Blade being repainted at Kurakura Point that morning with an accomplice. He confirms Scott Watson, with windblown scruffy hair (something Hunter denies Watson had), looked like the sketch of the mystery man. He confirms that—despite the photos—Watson’s hair looked slightly long, describing Watson as “medium build, wiry, untidy longish/bulky curly black hair around 30-35 years.”
Ted Walsh’s confirmation that it was Blade being painted from red to blue that day closes the circle, making it certain (if like Hunter you are still in denial) that the boat with two men painting it from red to blue on the way to Picton was definitely Blade.
That means the documentary Murder on the Blade is false, and the conclusions of Trial By Trickery are false too. Watson didn’t go to Erie Bay. He went to Picton. Seen by Ted Walsh. Painting his boat on New Year’s Day.
It’s an open and shut case. Everything Watson has said was a lie, and all the books and documentaries based on that lie are wrong.
True to form, Keith Hunter simply argues that Ted Walsh is wrong. Just as Wayne Robertson was wrong. There was no painting, there’s nothing to see here.
“I can only suggest it was an incorrect identification. Ted’s wife was with him and she didn’t see it,” says Hunter.
As proof that you have to fact-check virtually everything Hunter says about the Watson case, let’s see what Ted’s wife Eyvonne saw:
“We headed out and went to Waikawa. It would have been 2.30 pm or 3.00 pm and we went to get petrol.
“I’m not exactly sure but as we came into Waikawa near the 5 knots side on your left I heard someone say “Someone’s painting a boat”. I made the comment who would want to paint a boat on a nice day like this”.
“I probably would have glanced towards whoever was painting but I didn’t take any notice. I was getting ropes ready to come into the jetty I think.
“I remember Ted said the guy had more paint on his hands than what he had on the boat. I can’t be accurate where this boat that was being painted was but I feel it was outside Waikawa Marina.”
A week later, Eyvonne told police:
“I have been racking my brains over the painting incident, it was definitely New Year’s Day but where is the problem. The reasons it was New Year’s Day was I remember Ted saying something about having more paint on his hands than on the boat. I responded by saying something like “who would be painting a boat on New Year’s Day, haven’t they got something better to do on New Year’s Day”.
“I can only vaguely remember something about a person bending over half way down the boat. I would have been doing something else with ropes, getting them ready for docking…
“That’s when I believe I saw the person painting the yacht on our left as we went in by the first sign which says something like “5 knots now”.
“I believe it was when we were travelling into the Marina because I would have been getting the ropes on our boat ready for docking.
“I read this and is true and correct.
“(Sgd) E J Walsh”
So Eyvonne Walsh did see the man painting the yacht. As you can see, Ted Walsh confirmed he saw Blade being painted from red to blue at Waikawa Marina at Picton, on New Year’s Day when Hunter has been claiming all these years that Watson was at Erie Bay from 10am.
As you can also see, this backs up the earlier painting sighting and confirms the direction of travel—Picton, not Erie Bay. Watson could not have been at Erie Bay.
Contrary to Hunter’s #fakenews #alternativefacts assertions, Eyvonne Walsh did confirm the incident.
It is true, as you’ll see from the evidence statements, that Ted Walsh months later purported to not remember the incident. But both Ted and Eyvonne corroborated it close to the time it happened. Ted has passed away so we’ll never know why he never referred to it again, although given that he and Eyvonne became convinced their “mystery ketch” sighting was the real issue, that may have been a factor subconsciously.
As I wrote in Elementary, the repainting of Blade on 1 January before it even got to Erie Bay is corroborated by the first evidence statements taken from two children who witnessed the boat arriving at Zappa’s place on 2 January:
“He came on his boat. It was a different colour than last year. It was blue on the top,” Zappa’s son told police.
“I remember that his yacht was sort of navy blue and white in colour when he arrived,” said Zappa’s daughter, who added, in defiance of Keith Hunter’s “clean shaven” claims, “I would say his face was prickly, he needed a shave.”
Faced with the now undeniable evidence that Scott Watson repainted Blade at sea on 1 January, with an accomplice, while heading to Picton instead of Erie Bay, Keith Hunter deflects and says “so what?” Painting a boat is not a criminal offence.
No, it isn’t, but lying to police on a double murder investigation is. And Scott Watson is now proven to have lied about where he went and what he did in the 36 hours following Ben and Olivia’s disappearance. That’s the relevance—catching the prime suspect out in a massive series of false statements and false alibis.
Hunter asks what difference painting the boat blue makes, when soap and water could have washed off any fingerprints?
We know Ben and Olivia clambered aboard Blade in the darkness, steadying themselves against the cabin. Police testified that all smooth surfaces on the exterior “capable of bearing fingerprints” were repainted blue. And we know that happened within hours of the disappearance.
What advantage does paint provide over soap and water? It leaves a visible trail of what’s been done and what still needs to be done, whereas Watson couldn’t know whether an accomplice with a soapy cloth had missed a spot—a huge risk to take. He’d already told people he planned to paint his boat so a partial alibi existed. In a phone call to his girlfriend intercepted by police, Watson says he’d actually had the paint for some time:
“I painted my f**k’n boat with the paint I had a year before, what do you want me to tell ya?”
Furthermore, although soap and water sometimes get rid of fingerprints (not always), cleaning—even with bleach—does not erase DNA from sweat, body fluids or blood.
“DNA quality was found to be appreciably high despite the use of chlorinated and non-chlorinated cleaning agents,” reports one study.
Some cleaners, like hydrogen peroxide based ones, can prevent bloodstains from showing up as bloodstains in initial testing, but another study says that if forensic experts know what to look for they can still get DNA from a vigorously cleaned site:
“In this work, the effect of these new cleaning products on DNA analyses is studied. The results, encouraging ones, show that these detergents, despite invalidating all other tests, do not hinder the extraction, or the subsequent analysis, of DNA.”
The solvents in paint, however, can destroy fingerprints and any attendant DNA. Painting, if you are taking real precautions, is a safer way to cover up.
While you can argue it looks odd (and clearly it did to Wayne Robertson) to repaint a boat at sea, it would look even odder to be sprawled across the deck scrubbing it with soap and water—ostensibly to wash off seaspray—whilst you are still sailing at sea. A bit like raking up leaves during a cyclone.
I suspect the repaint achieved two main goals – obliterating evidence and buying time: police would be looking for a reddish brown boat so changing the colour to blue made his trail harder to follow. In an analysis of Watson’s guilt, journalist Andi Brotherston (who sat through the entire trial) wrote:
“The significance of Watson repainting his sloop in early January is often dismissed by people saying that Watson wouldn’t have been stupid enough to paint it the same colour as the ketch police were looking for. That statement is silly in the extreme, for several reasons:
“—When Watson painted his sloop, on January 1 or 2, the police weren’t looking for a ketch. They weren’t even looking Ben and Olivia by then.
“—The first description of the ketch wasn’t released until well after Watson finished the painting.
“—Watson knew there were lots of photographs taken at Furneaux Lodge that evening and eventually one would emerge of his yacht. He would have expected it to be described as ‘brown and white’ not ‘blue and white’.”
The bottom line is that we don’t have to speculate about the reasons for the New Year’s Day repaint. The mere fact that it happened at sea rather than Erie Bay proves Watson lied, and liars in double homicide investigations almost always have reason to lie. We don’t have to speculate on why or how Watson picked up an accomplice. The cold hard fact is that he did and the only person who can give answers is Watson. The way the judicial process works is that evidence unchallenged is deemed to be proven. The burden of proof shifts to the person wanting to challenge.
I have proven that virtually everything Scott Watson has said to police and North & South is a lie. If Scott Watson wants to prove otherwise he will need to credibly explain how all the witness statements in Elementary and Elementary 2.0 are wrong, and offer corroborated evidence (not just ‘what if?’ questions) to the contrary.
ITEM FIVE: THE CONFLICTING STORIES OF THE WATSON FAMILY
It is one thing when the prime suspect in a double murder lies about his movements. It is another thing when Scott Watson’s family help fabricate stories and muddy the water themselves.
But that’s exactly what I believe father Chris Watson, and Scott’s siblings Tom and Sandy have done.
The biggest burden in this case for me has been reading and correcting the barrage of misinformation churned out by the Watson family in the media and on their Scott Watson web pages and Facebook sites. They were intimately involved behind the scenes in the Doubt and Murder on the Blade programmes, the presenters of those shows in my view were little more than Watson family sock puppets.
Remember, this family has had the court file for twenty years. They know it inside out. But here is a collection of just a few of the conflicting stories I have caught them making:
Looks like Tom and Chris Watson have some explaining to do. Scott Watson told police he painted his boat blue on Jan 2nd at Erie Bay, which we now know was a lie. Keith Hunter’s Murder on the Blade and Chris Gallavin’s Doubt repeated that lie. So did Mike White in North and South.
Tom and Trudy Watson, on their website, say “The trim was painted on the 2nd”.
But yours truly proved Watson painted his boat on New Year’s Day…and look what I found Tom Watson telling police on 14 January 1998:
“I don’t know when he changed the colour although my father told me yesterday that Scott had changed it on New Years Day.”
The plot thickens. How did Chris Watson know? He can’t have plucked that gem from nowhere. Why did Chris Watson and Tom Watson let the 2 January story continue for 18 years?
Fascinating. Especially when Chris Watson had the chance five days later on 19 Jan to tell police about the New Year’s Day paintjob but overlooked it:
“In relation to the change of cabin colour both Bev and Chris said that when Scott painted it initially the colour didn’t turn out correctly so they both believed that he was going to repaint it. They don’t recall him talking about doing this at any particular time. The boat is painted with chlorinated paint which is a type of rubber paint. The whole purpose of using that paint is that for touch-ups or repainting you just hose the boat down and ‘slap’ on another coat. No undercoating or sanding is required”
On 12 March Chris Watson was spoken to again by police and appeared to know more about his son’s movements on New Year’s Day:
“Discussion in regard to the length of time it took Scott to boat from Endeavour to Erie Bay supposedly. Chris stated there was a reason for this. When asked what, he would not comment further. He was asked why Scott had lied to Police about time he left Furneaux and times he claimed to have returned to his boat when we have witnesses who said differently. Chris would not comment. He stated nothing in regard to the allegation that Scott told a number of known untruths including the fact Scott had said he had seen Ron LE HURAY a work mate at Furneaux when he was not in the area.
“Discussed the reason for Scott’s yacht having been wiped down completely. Chris stated there was a reason for this also. Would not elaborate when asked whether it involved condensation.
“General discussion involving the fact “if” Scott was involved and was lying to Chris and family members as well. Chris did not comment and shrugged shoulders.
“Discussed why Scott was not wanting to get his yacht back and appeared to have left the family holding the fort for him. Also why Scott had changed his appearance since New Year.”
In a Statement given to Watson’s Defence team, Chris Watson revealed a crucial piece of evidence – a chunk was removed from the seating squab on Scott’s boat AFTER Ben and Olivia disappeared, but allegedly because of the mysterious repaint:
“The Police also asked questions about a squab on the yacht, which had a piece cut out of it and had no cover.
“I knew the reason for this was that Scott had spilt paint on the squab when he was painting his boat in the New Year and had cut the stained patch out of the squab cover and a piece out of the foam.
“I am aware that Scott had repainted his cabin sides and cowling during the New Year. I believe one of the reasons for doing so was because I used to comment to him about having a poofter boat painted pink.”
A couple of days after that Facebook post on the Scott Watson Facts page, I published this:
The credibility of the Watson family is in serious doubt tonight with the revelation they have told contradictory stories about Scott Watson’s movements and actions after Ben and Olivia disappeared.
In her signed police statement of 12 January, Sandy Watson was evasive on whether Scott had anyone else on the boat after leaving Furneaux, and she implied she didn’t know when or where Scott had painted Blade, repeatedly saying she “assumed” he had visited Erie Bay:
“I knew because Scott had told me he left Furneaux New Year’s morning. I don’t know what time it was.
“Scott never told me if he had anyone with him.
“I assumed between New Year’s morning and returning to Picton, Scott had visited “Zappa” in Erie Bay.
…”I assumed that somewhere and some time between New Year’s Day and 4 January 1998, Scott had painted the red to a blue. The blue was a dark blue.”
Interesting that before Scott Watson had rung Zappa on the 12th to confirm his false alibi, Sandy Watson was in a police interview keeping open the possibility of a repaint on NYD, “somewhere”.
We now know, of course, that Scott Watson lied about painting at Erie Bay on 2 Jan, and in fact painted it en route to Picton on 1 January.
At face value Sandy’s statement was correct – it was vague enough to cover the real sequence of events. However, once her brother confirmed his fake Erie Bay story, Sandy swung in behind.
Now here’s what she told her brother’s private investigators in a signed statement:
Date: 23 February 1998
Time: 4:10 p.m.
SANDRA-JO WATSON states:
“I was not surprised that Scott had painted his boat between New Year’s Eve and 3 January. He had been talking about doing it while we were sailing back from Tauranga. He was trying to talk me into painting the interior for him. We didn’t discuss colour schemes.
“Before I went on board [at 11pm on 3 Jan] he said he had painted the boat. When we got to his boat we were busy talking about when we were going to leave and the tides through French Pass. It wasn’t until the morning that I went out on deck and saw the new paint. He had painted the cabin sides and the top of the sides. The deck had not been painted. The deck is steel and it is painted cream. I told him it looked really good painted. HE TOLD ME ZAPPA HAD GIVEN HIM THE PAINT AND HE HAD DONE IT AT ERIE BAY. I thought it looked better blue than red. The cabin roof is steel.”
From a claim to police that she didn’t know where Scott had repainted his boat, suddenly her story has changed and she claims Scott “told me…he had done it at Erie Bay.” This from a conversation on the morning of 4 Jan – eight days before she spoke to police.
She didn’t tell them that.
And given we now know Scott Watson painted his boat at sea en route from Kurakura Point to Picton on NYD, and that Zappa’s children have independently confirmed Scott’s boat was already blue when it arrived at Erie (just before midday on 2 Jan), we know the story Sandy Watson is telling is not true.
I believe there are only two possibilities. Either Scott Watson lied to his own sister (a major indicator of his guilt if he did that), or Sandy Watson is lying about the Erie Bay story. Given the way she hedged her bets in the first police statement, one can only wonder. Either way, we already know Scott Watson has lied and now serious questions are arising about the conflicting versions of events given by the Watsons.
Example? Sandy’s brother Tom told police Scott repainted his boat on New Year’s day:
“I don’t know when he changed the colour although my father told me yesterday that Scott had changed it on New Years Day,” Tom told police in his 14 January signed statement.
So why, if he has known since 13 January 1998 that the boat was repainted on 1 January, has Tom Watson publicly maintained on his website:
“The trim was painted on the 2nd”.
Has Tom Watson, like his sister, knowingly told two different stories about events?
But it gets worse for the Watsons. In a Statement given to Watson’s Defence team, Chris Watson revealed a crucial piece of evidence – a chunk was removed from the seating squab on Scott’s boat AFTER Ben and Olivia disappeared, but allegedly because of the mysterious repaint:
“The Police also asked questions about a squab on the yacht, which had a piece cut out of it and had no cover.
“I knew the reason for this was that Scott had spilt paint on the squab when he was painting his boat in the New Year and had cut the stained patch out of the squab cover and a piece out of the foam.”
In case you missed it, Chris Watson said he “knew” that “Scott had spilt paint on the squab when he was painting his boat in the New Year”.
So if Chris “knew” that Scott had done it during the actual repaint, how do we explain this comment from Sandy Watson on Facebook this year in response to a question:
“Scott Watson said it was paint on that squab and I asked the question how did it get there? to which Sandy Watson replied:
‘Sandy Watson: Paint bucket fell over while we were sailing’.”
According to Sandy’s police statement from 12 January 1998, the boat had already been repainted by the time she boarded it on 3 Jan. And her father says he “knew” Scott had spilt paint on the squab during the repaint.
So where did Sandy’s claim about it happening “while we were sailing” come from? Sandy even claimed on Facebook that the paint got on her duffelbag. Was Sandy onboard Blade during the repaint at Picton, perhaps?
Can ANYONE in the Watson family get their stories straight? Or are all these stories fabrications, and Scott Watson cut a portion of the squab that had DNA in it, and deliberately spilt paint to create a cover story?
Did Watson paint his boat on New Year’s Day, as Chris Watson and Tom Watson originally said, or 2 January as they now say? Was the boat painted before Sandy Watson got on board, as she told police, or while she was sailing with Scott as she claimed on Facebook?
But that’s not the only dodgy information coming from the Watsons. I again publicly challenged Tom Watson to explain his false claim that a boat seen leaving Furneaux was Scott’s:
Caught Tom Watson misleading Scott Watson supporters again….
He posted this statement as the basis for a claim that the yacht seen leaving was Scott’s, around 6.30-7am NYD:
14338 / JS / VICKI EASTGATE / BM6952 / 080699
NEW ZEALAND POLICE
OFFENCE: OPERATION TAM
At the request of the Crown Solicitor carrying out enquiries as directed with boat owner and occupant witnesses.
1250 hours Phone enquiry with:
EASTGATE is the co-owner of a yacht Unicorn.
She confirms that while at Fumeaux they had their dog with them which is a fox terrier.
On the morning of 01/01/98 she said that their party were up drinking coffee at the back of the boat between about 6.30 to 7.30 am.
Between those times she noticed a ski boat leave and she had seen that earlier beside the fishing boats. She thought that she saw another yacht leave over that period but couldn’t describe it any further.
B McLACHLAN Detective 6952 ”
Tom claims this is proof Scott left at the time he told police.
But Tom Watson either doesn’t know his brother’s case files as well as me, or he’s being deliberately deceptive in my view.
Why? Because the Eastgates are on record confirming Watson’s boat had already gone when they woke at dawn:
“I got up at about 5.30 am and I noticed then that Scott’s boat wasn’t there,” Unicorn skipper Warwick Eastgate told police.
Moral of the story? don’t trust the Scott Watson support page…they will deceive you at every turn.
Tom Watson now says this:
Tom Watson “Earl Duthie Vick Eastgate did not say state she was up at 5.30am, I went through all the Unicorn statements etc today and they appear to be all over the place. Haven’t check court testimony yet though.”
All over the place?
Vicki’s first statement 12/1:
“The next morning Warwick and I woke up at about 5.30 am and Warwick rowed into shore with our dog and also to find my sweatshirt I had left there the night before.
“I first noticed that Scott’s boat was gone at about 6 or 6.30 am.
“I mentioned this to Warwick when he got back at about 6.00 am and he said it was gone when we got up.”
Vicki’s 2nd statement covers a different issue (Scott wanting to rape and kill, no discussion of Furneaux).
Vicki’s 3rd statement covers evening at lodge, not waking up next day.
Hardly all over the place, and you’ve already seen what husband Warwick says.
And here’s the statement the Eastgates gave to Watson’s legal team, 23/2:
“Warwick Eastgate said that he got up at about 5:00 – 5:30 a.m. because he couldn’t sleep. He said that he rowed his dinghy back to the Lodge to find Vicki’s sweatshirt, which he had left behind.
“He said that when he started rowing back into the Lodge, he noticed that Scott’s boat had gone and was amazed that he had left so early because of his intoxicated state only some hours earlier.
“The Eastgate’s have known Scott Watson for the past three years.”
My view? Tom Watson is still trying to lie.
Tom Watson misleads the public about Scott Watson’s water taxi trip. I’m calling you out Tom – front up and explain.
Let’s fact check Tom: Tom Watson “The time of 2.00am for the first trip was based on Scott’s rough guess and some strange evidence from Donald Anderson that suggested he took Scott back then. However could not be confirmed by the people on the boats he was rafted to who were still up and on deck around that time. More likely slightly after 3.30 and Scott’s last confirmed sighting ashore when the people in the raft confirmed his arrival. And probably dropped off by John Mullens, the old man in the hat the Scott spoke of. The mystery man trip was well after that. There was only one trip. Two trip theory was just trickery to make the jury think it was ok to make Scott the mystery man based on nonsense. And the Judge allowed it.”
John Mullen, by his OWN ADMISSION TO POLICE left the jetty at 2.30am and was dropped home by Don Anderson at 3am. John Mullen CANNOT have been the taxi that dropped Scott to Blade after 3.30am – HE WAS ALREADY ASLEEP IN BED .
Why Tom, are you relying on Keith Hunter’s discredited Murder on the Blade interview five years after the event, instead of the actual signed witness statements?
Then Tom tries to perpetuate the myth that Guy Wallace wasn’t doing taxi rides between 3.30am and 4am: Tom Watson “Guy only started doing trips well after that.”
Not true, Sarah Dyer had a watch. Guy Wallace dropped her off at the Pines at 4.05am, after five minutes earlier dropping off the mystery man.
Stop making stuff up Tom Watson.
And while you are about it Tom, what’s your comment on your admission that Scott’s yacht was painted on New Year’s Day just as I have said?
Given the huge number of coincidental similarities between the Mystery Man and Scott Watson, you can add another one: both the MM and Watson arrived at a boat on a water taxi at 4am. The man and his shadow, together until the end but never seen as a couple, only as one.
Who is he? That’s elementary: it’s Watson.
ITEM SIX: KEITH HUNTER HAS PROVED SCOTT WATSON IS THE KILLER
In Elementary I mentioned the incident of Watson falling in a puddle of alcohol, which is why Wallace thought he smelt of bourbon. This features in Keith Hunter’s book Trial By Trickery as the so-called “Kylie Mizzen” incident. Whenever Hunter wants to challenge a witness, he changes their name—perhaps to avoid being sued. In some cases a witness had name suppression but this one did not. Mizzen’s real name was Anna Kernick, and her story features in Elementary from page 260 onwards.
The Mizzen incident is crucial, because Hunter argues the culprit was beyond all doubt “the mystery man”. He claims Kylie Mizzen only identified the culprit as Watson because of the “blink photo” of Watson that caught him with his eyes half shut. Hunter writes that the Mizzen incident unquestionably portrays the mystery man, the killer of Ben and Olivia. Let’s see how Hunter writes the evidence leading to this absolutely vital discovery:
“Witnesses who had seen the mystery man on the prowl would identify the [blink] photograph because the man depicted in it had the eyes they all recalled. The result was a doubling up of Watson sightings with the additional benefit—to the Crown case—that the particularly offensive sleazy behaviour of the mystery man would be included in the behaviour attributed to Watson.
“An instance of that sleazy behaviour occurred when a man matching the eyewitness descriptions of the mystery man annoyed witness Kylie Mizzen. Mizzen told the High Court that the man said to her: ‘Nice set you’ve got there love’, and ‘Come down to my boat…I’ll do things you never imagined or dreamed of’. This man also seemingly touched a friend of hers improperly on the breast when he bent down to pick up his drink.
“The Crown made much of this incident,” writes Hunter. “Davison QC submitted to the jury that this man and the descriptions of him given in court matched Watson. It was an important factor in his depiction of Watson as the slimy, sleazy creep we, and the jury, were all persuaded he is.
“But an inspection of all the relevant evidence suggests Watson is neither that creep nor the man who upset Kylie Mizzen.”
Hunter then carefully selects what evidence he will disclose to back up his case that it was the mystery man.
He stresses Anna Kernick’s 13 January description of the man as “male Caucasian, aged about 34-35 years, dark brown hair, it had a part in the middle and wavy medium length…”
But it is what Keith Hunter left out of Kernick’s 13 January statement that in my view should give people cause to doubt any of Hunter’s work on this matter. Kernick (Kylie Mizzen) told police the mystery man claimed to be a boat builder:
“At one stage during this guy being around he passed comments about coming down to his boat for a ride.
“I also bent down to pick up my bag and he said to me, ‘Nice set you have got there love’.
“It was about this time that Lance spoke with this guy. I could hear him say to Lance that he was a boat builder and to come down to his boat. I could hear Lance telling this guy that we didn’t want anything to do with him.
“I also heard him ask Lance for drugs. I heard Lance tell him he was a policeman and this guy walked away then came back and told Lance to prove it.
“This went on for a couple of minutes then he left us alone.”
Why would Keith Hunter quote the “Mizzen”/Kernick identification of “the mystery man” in his assessment of “relevant evidence”, but deliberately leave out the bit about the mystery man being a boat builder? Scott Watson was a boat builder. Surely this was highly relevant?
Why did Keith Hunter also deliberately leave out the bit about the man asking for drugs? After all, Hunter interviewed Sarah Holland about an alleged encounter with Scott Watson on the Furneaux jetty after 10pm, and if you read Holland’s police statement one of the features is that Watson asked for drugs.
“He approached us and tapped Stacey on the shoulder. She turned and he asked her for drugs, just that, drugs. She told him we didn’t have any. He carried on chatting away to Stacey and Carmen. He kept going on about drugs, he wanted to smoke. He spoke to Stacey for about a minute or so. I thought we might have trouble with him but we humoured him until he left. He never said where he was from, what he was doing, or who he was.”
In his attempted rebuttal of Elementary Hunter is forced to quote witness Ray Padden who Hunter admits had an encounter with Watson. Padden said: “This male person came over and started speaking to me. He said that he had built his boat and that it was in the bay. He asked me if I had any drugs. I said no. I said ‘Look I don’t know you, you could be a cop, anyway I don’t take drugs.’ He then said ‘Dog on a chain bro’.”
“Dog on a chain” was one of Watson’s favourite sayings, so we know this was him. Richard Egden, another witness in a separate Furneaux conversation with Watson, remembers:
“He said he was from Wellington. He said he was a druggy. I had a conversation with him at one point. He said to me that at our age he was on acid and stuff like that. He said he didn’t go to school. I asked him his name. I think he said it was Scott. He said he was 26 although he looked older than that. I would have spoken with him for about 5 minutes.”
So here we have a clear trail of evidence. Sightings of Scott Watson endorsed by Keith Hunter that suit his purposes include evidence that he was a boat builder and was asking people for drugs. Yet Hunter wants the public to believe that the Mizzen/Kernick sighting is of the mystery man, not Scott Watson, which is why in my opinion he leaves out all references to drugs and boat building from the Mizzen incident in Trial By Trickery.
He then declares, after deliberately leaving out the most damning evidence (it had to have been deliberate in my view because clearly he had the witness statements and made an editorial choice not to use these quotes), that Mizzen’s mystery man is the killer police are looking for:
“All of which,” says Hunter, “goes to erase any doubt as to who these witnesses were describing. The man in the Mizzen incident in the lounge bar, the man at the bar served by Guy Wallace and Roz McNeilly, and the man in the water taxi with Ben and Olivia…are all one and the same man.”
This is dynamite, because on Hunter’s own analysis, Anna Kernick and her friends were talking to the murderer.
I cover this in Elementary, but seeing as Keith Hunter and I agree that Kernick’s culprit is the murderer, let’s remind ourselves exactly what the Kernick witnesses said—the bits Hunter left out.
Anna Kernick’s friend Mary told police:
“He told me he had a boat and asked if I would like to come out with him and said he was from Christchurch.”
Scott Watson had grown up in Christchurch. He had his own boat.
Kernick’s friend Lance Rairi, an Australian cop, told police:
“I started making small talk with him so that he wouldn’t talk to Annie anymore. I said, ‘Where are all your mates?’ He replied that he was there on his own.
“I asked him if he was from around the area and he said yeah.”
Scott Watson, after a run-in with the law in Christchurch, had moved to Picton to learn his father’s trade in the boat-building industry. Scott had sailed into Furneaux alone that day on Blade, a boat he had built himself.
Lance Rairi continues:
“I don’t know how it came up in conversation but he mentioned that he’d arrived at Furneaux Lodge in a boat. I asked him if it was his own boat and he said yes and that he’d actually built the boat himself.
“I asked him if that was what he did, and he said that he was a boat builder.
“During the conversation he asked me if I had any drugs. I said no and told him that I didn’t do that sort of thing. He became agitated and seemed to change his attitude. He called me ignorant and I asked him why. He said I was ignorant because I didn’t use drugs.”
This not only corresponds with Watson allegedly asking Sarah Holland’s friend and Ray Padden for drugs, but the inciting others to use drugs was also a known Watson trademark, as Watson’s former girlfriend told police.
“When we went to my boss’s birthday party Scott got absolutely drunk and was being a real arsehole during the party. I was told on the Monday after the party by people who went to the party that Scott had been telling my boss’s 15 year old son the benefits of drugs, that he’d been feeling up two women.”
Scott “Show us your tits, you slut” Watson was clearly a boobs man, and in the Mizzen incident Keith Hunter’s mystery man “brushed against my breasts,” Mary told police.
Anna Kernick witnessed it:
“He was really drunk and was sleazy. Mary was leaning against the pool table and he was leaning in close and swaying back and forth. I couldn’t hear what was being said but could tell that Mary was trying to get rid of him.
“I saw him put his beer down by Mary’s feet and then he asked her to pick it up and when she did he brushed his hand across her breast.”
And Mary wasn’t the only one to get the treatment:
“He leant on the pool table, leant over Annie and said to her, ‘Gee, you’ve got a lovely set’,” witness Phillip Hale told police.
“Annie then said to him, ‘Have you pissed on your arm?’ He had a wet stain on his sleeve where it had looked as though he had spilt beer on it or something.”
This wet arm aspect is important, because Keith Hunter argues the probability in Trial By Trickery that the mystery man seen by bar manager Roz McNeilly “fell over in that corner [and]…would have got wet because there was a lot of beer on the floor.” Or Bourbon, because people were drinking and spilling that too.
It’s the same argument I made in Elementary.
As Hunter writes, “Coincidentally, Kylie Mizzen and her friend…had noticed, of the man who offended them, that ‘his left arm was saturated’.”
Fast forward to Guy Wallace on the water taxi ride:
“The guy on this ketch would have been about 32, about 5’9” tall, wiry build. He was unshaven but didn’t have a moustache. He had short dark wavy hair and smelled like a bottle of Bourbon.”
Now look at how Kernick’s boyfriend Phillip Hale (called “Adam Keel” by Hunter in his book) described the lone Picton boat builder who had been inviting the girls onto his boat and leering at their breasts:
“He was a male Caucasian, about 5’7” in height, slim build, he was wiry.
“He had short dark wavy hair down to just past his collar.
“He had high cheekbones with ‘slitty’ sort of eyes.
“He had like a day or two’s growth on his face.
“He was wearing a blue long sleeved denim shirt which had two pockets on the front. He was wearing brown Caterpillar type boots. He was wearing dark blue jeans.”
Just like Guy Wallace, Phillip Hale says the man had “short dark wavy hair down to just past his collar.”
But here’s the thing: although Keith Hunter had read Hale’s witness statement and given him the “Adam Keel” pseudonym in his book, he chose not to quote Hale’s description of the man with “short dark wavy hair”. He kept his readers in the dark. This was a statement made mid-January 1998, right at the beginning.
Then, when Anna Kernick (“Kylie Mizzen”) said this at the 1999 trial—“It was dark brown sort of wavy, short but like maybe touched his collar”—Hunter accused Kernick of giving “different testimony” from her original statement, which was “dark brown hair, it had a part in the middle and wavy medium length.”
How could Hunter criticise the word “short” as a late invention that emerged at trial, when he knew Phillip Hale (“Adam Keel”) had used precisely those words to describe the mystery man right from the get-go?
For the record, I don’t see anything inconsistent with categorising short dark wavy hair (implying compressed length) that reached the collar as “medium length”.
Additionally, Hunter knew (because he partially quoted Ollie Perkins in his book in a confirmed Watson encounter) that Oliver Perkins described Watson having hair in a messy fringe: “His hair was unkempt and sitting forward.” Or perhaps he meant the hair in front was emphasised by Watson’s receding hairline: “He was receding around the sides but not badly. He had about two days growth on his face.”
Maybe it’s only me, but I find Hunter’s journalism perplexing. It is one thing to leave out irrelevant detail for the sake of brevity, but it’s impossible to justify in my view arguing (purely as just one example) that Watson was clean shaven on the night when you know you have witnesses saying the opposite, and choosing to simply leave that detail out.
Hunter talked about the Perkins incident as part of his Mizzen analysis, and he claimed that “not one” witness who testified about the Perkins incident described “ ‘scruffy’ or ‘untidy’ hair” on Watson. Yet you’ve just seen Perkins describe it as “unkempt”.
There’s something else Hunter left out of his version of the Kylie Mizzen incident—some direct evidence that the identikit pictures of the mystery man (relied on by Keith Hunter) were in fact wrong:
“I have been shown the identikits sketches,” Anna Kernick told police in January 1998, “the hair is too long and shaggy, his hair was tidier with his ears showing.”
So here is a key witness (according to Hunter) to the mystery man, saying his hair was actually shorter and not covering his ears, and Hunter chooses not to tell Trial By Trickery readers this. For nearly a decade they’ve been left believing the long-haired identikit pictures were correct, when one of Hunter’s own star witnesses says they were not.
Keith Hunter’s mysterious habit of leaving out inconvenient evidence did not end there however.
“Only Kylie Mizzen and her boyfriend Adam Keel identified Watson,” writes Hunter. “Both identifications were of photograph 3 in Montage B, the blink photo. Keel chose the blink photo on account of the eyes.”
This appears to be an implication that Philip Hale (“Keel”) had only identified Watson because of the controversial blink. Hunter did not tell readers what Hale really said, so let’s see for ourselves:
“I described a male in my statement who hit on Annie. That person I described in my statement and photograph No. 3 are the same person. That was who I saw at Furneaux on New Year’s Eve hitting on Annie.
“I am 100% certain that is the male at Furneaux who was talking to Annie.
“I was only a couple of metres away and I had a good look at him. It is his eyes, they looked slitty and half shut on New Year’s Eve and the same in the photograph. His hair colour and scruffy looks the same too.
“His face stuck in my mind from that night and I just recall it quite clearly.
“I can positively say that the person who hassled Annie at Furneaux is photograph No.3.”
You could not actually get a more definitive identification of the suspect. Hale tells police Watson’s face stuck in his mind, he had a good look at him, and he recalled him clearly. The eyes in the photo were just the icing on the cake.
Why would Keith Hunter choose not to include this in the Mizzen story?
In my view, Hunter must have chosen not to reveal these inconvenient pieces of evidence because they would shoot down his argument in the book that the identification of Watson was flimsy and that “there can be little doubt” that this was in fact the “mystery man”, the killer of Ben & Olivia.
Let’s recap what Hunter left out of the mystery man evidence in the Mizzen incident:
Had come from Christchurch (Watson tick)
Was now a local to the Picton area (Watson tick, and Guy Wallace was told this as well)
Was a boat builder (Watson tick)
Had built his own boat (Watson tick)
Had come alone (Watson tick)
Had asked for drugs (Watson tick)
Had tried to convince others to use drugs (Watson tick)
Had short dark wavy hair down to his collar that did not fully cover his ears (Watson tick)
That the identikit pictures were wrong according to the key witness
Had been absolutely identified as Scott Watson because the witness clearly remembered his face
Yet according to Keith Hunter who knew all this but didn’t share it, you can “erase any doubt as to who these witnesses were describing. The man in the Mizzen incident in the lounge bar, the man at the bar served by Guy Wallace and Roz McNeilly, and the man in the water taxi with Ben and Olivia…are all one and the same man.”
And that man, obviously, can only be Scott Watson. After all, he was telling anyone who would listen that he was a boat builder who’d constructed his own yacht. He was proud of the fact:
“He mentioned that he had built the boat himself,” Yvonne Greer recalled Watson saying, “and that it was steel, 26-28’ long and that it was red and white. He said it cost $12,000 to build and he said that he’d built it in his back yard while he was working in boat yard. He mentioned that he had some really good navigation gear in it.”
Watson regaled another woman, Debbie Cassidy, with the same story: “Scott had been talking to us all about his yacht and appeared very proud of it. Scott said he had made the yacht himself.”
And Simon Skelton: “Scott was talking about his home built yacht.”
Gary Cassidy couldn’t hear what Scott was telling Debbie, but says Watson later told him “that he had built his boat and that he didn’t know how to weld when he started building it.”
Geoff Hall shared a drink with Watson at Furneaux on New Year’s Eve: “He said he was a boat builder, and that he had built his own ketch.”
In the entire police file, there appears to be only one person at Furneaux who made a point of telling people he was a boat-builder who’d constructed his own yacht. That person was Scott Watson.
Keith Hunter and I are agreed that the man in the “Mizzen incident” was the same man Roz McNeilly served at the bar, the same man Guy Wallace served who said he was from Picton, and the same man who climbed on the water taxi that took Ben and Olivia to their deaths. If you add back the “Mizzen incident” evidence that Hunter left out, you can “erase any doubt” that the man in question was Watson.
But hang on, I hear some of you saying, Keith Hunter says the mystery man was described as “scruffy, with untidy, frizzy, ‘seablown’, wavy, collar or shoulder-length brown hair”.
Yes, but what Keith Hunter didn’t tell you is that people who knew Scott Watson and saw him at this time described him in precisely those terms:
“Scott’s hair was down past his ears and looked windswept. He looked unshaven,” Debbie Cassidy, a friend of Sandy Watson, recalled when she met Scott four days before New Year. Given that Watson says he didn’t get a haircut before New Year, his hair must have been at least that length or longer at Furneaux.
“When I spoke with Scott he had about two days stubble on his face. His hair was curly, it was on his shoulders and looked scruffy,” Gary Cassidy, Debbie’s husband, told police.
Even Scott Watson’s own brother, Tom Watson, says Scott had longish wavy hair when he caught up with him on 3 January 1998—48 hours after the murders:
“…a little bit longer than mine probably he was starting to go a little bit curly just above the ears prob covering the top tips of his ears and ah poss down to the back of his collar, down to the top of his collar sorry,” Tom Watson told the court. “His hair was uncombed. It is coloured black and is a bit longer than mine; it would have been just over his ears and down to his collar; it is wavy,” he told police at the time of the killings.
Brent Newton met Watson at Furneaux with Ray Padden, and told police “His hair was medium length and not much over his collar. He wasn’t long haired or anything like that.”
Scott Watson’s sister-in-law, Trudy Watson, saw him on 3 January and described him as having scruffy, medium length wavy hair:
“Scott looked like he had been out on the boat and had just come in. His hair was a bit scruffy. I can’t say whether he was shaven or not. His clothes are usually old or scruffy. I seem to recall that he was in blue clothing. His hair is dark. I call it black. It is not long but not really short either. It is wavy.”
All of which shows Keith Hunter’s claims that these descriptions are “all inconsistent with Watson” to be a load of old cobblers. Even Watson’s brother admitted his hair was collar-length when he saw Scott on 3 January. The fact that some other witnesses described him with short hair is irrelevant: short, medium and long are all subjective descriptions relevant to the beholder.
But the evidence files contain one more bombshell. Hayden Morresey’s sister Monique got a good look from behind at the mystery man as he chatted to Guy Wallace at the Furneaux bar:
“This guy was a male and although I didn’t see his face I think he was a Caucasian.
“His hair was wavy and just above his shoulders. It was not tight curls but just wavy.
“It looked scruffy in that it was unclean and uncombed. It had that salty look where he could have been swimming in the sea and hadn’t washed it afterwards.
“I could not pick his age but he did not appear to be old. His build was average, neither fat nor skinny.
“He was definitely shorter than the guy he was talking to. They looked like they knew each other.
“We were in the bar for about an hour and they would have been talking for at least half of that time maybe more. I do not know what they were talking about,” Monique Morresey told police.
“I don’t know how it came up but I know that he said he was crew on a fishing boat,” Guy Wallace told police. Which is interesting, because here’s what Tom Watson said about Scott:
“He has done a bit of boat building in Picton and has worked on fishing boats from Nelson. Recently he worked on a fishing boat from the Whangarei area. That was in 1997. He was unloading hoki boats in Picton last summer.”
So the mystery man told Guy Wallace he’d worked on fishing boats and came from Picton. The mystery man told witnesses to the Mizzen incident he was a local, a boat builder and had arrived on his own home-built vessel.
The cold hard fact is that a short Watson with wavy hair down to his collar was described in terms consistent with the mystery man, and regardless, he was the only boat-builder at Furneaux who’d sailed his own home-built yacht in alone, so it must have been Watson involved in the Mizzen incident and—by Hunter’s own definition—it must have been Watson on the water taxi and his boat Blade that Ben and Olivia climbed onto, not a mystery ketch.
Finally, all three mystery man witnesses – Guy Wallace, Roz McNeilly and Chey Phipps – say the identikit sketch was way too exaggerated on his hair and facial hair.
Phipps was questioned in court by the judge:
Q:You spoke about shoulder length hair, did I gather that that was just at the back…Yes Sir, how could I explain this. It basically only just whisped to the shoulders.
Whisped to the shoulders…Yes, sort of whispy type of hair.
But in the front and the top part, would you describe it as short or long…I would describe it as almost whispy straight-ish.
Short or long…I’d half to say like shortish crewcut, it wasn’t a crew type, it was sort of more long yes.
What about like your own hair at the moment, a bit like that…Yes Sir yes, perhaps a bit more wavier.
You wouldn’t describe your hair at the back as shoulder length would you…No I don’t think so no.”
Roz McNeilly said the identikit was way too hairy:
Q: In terms of overall appearance, what did you think of the computer sketch so far as it being an accurate representation of the man you had been serving…To me this appears that he’s got more growth than what I remember him having.
More growth where…On his face, and the hair wasn’t as thick as what this appears to be either.
Can you tell whether he had an facial hair…it appeared to me that he hadn’t shaven for the day, he sort of had what I would call a 5 o’clock shadow
Guy Wallace describes the mystery man in this court transcript:
Q: What was it that brought him to your attention, were you serving him or was it something else than that…A bit scruffy, most people on New Year’s Eve make an attempt to you know tidy themselves up a bit and look fairly respectable.
Did he stand out in that respect…Yes.
When you say he was scruffy, what was it about his appearance which was scruffy…Oh, you know, most people tend to do their hair and have a shave and this guy hadn’t.
How old was this guy…I figured about 32 at the time.
Did you notice anything about…you say his hair didn’t seem to be done, what was his hair like, colour…Dark, a wee bit wavy, just unkempt.
In terms of hair length, how long was it…Just above the shoulder I suppose.
Above the shoulder where…At that sort of level.
In relation to the back of his neck, how long was it down in that part…Covering the neck I would say.
Just covering the neck…Yeah.
And the top of his head, the sides of the hair, how long was it…Oh, pretty much the same length as mine is at the moment actually.
Pretty much the same length as yours…Yeah, covering the ears.
So just down to the tops of the ears…Yeah.
Now let’s look at Simon Bell’s confirmed description of Watson when he intervened in the Perkins incident:
“…straight dark hair, real dark, brushed around, touch ears down onto collar, 25 years to 30 years, no moustache, stubble. He was wearing a light weight denim shirt, sleeves rolled loosely to below the elbow, tidy blue jeans, faded, cross trainers, fairly scuffed. Had tattoos on forearms or back of hand that were faded, I did not see what they were.”
Now back to Wallace in his police statement:
“The guy that got on board with Olivia and Ben was a male, Caucasian, aged about 32 years. He was about 5’8” tall, wiry build. I think he may have had tattoos on his arms but I can’t be sure. His hair was a brownie colour, wavy and medium length. He had about two days growth on his face.”
And a reminder again of how Tom Watson described his brother when he saw Scott two days after the murders:
“…[hair] a little bit longer than mine probably he was starting to go a little bit curly just above the ears prob covering the top tips of his ears and ah poss down to the back of his collar, down to the top of his collar sorry,” Tom Watson told the court. “His hair was uncombed. It is coloured black and is a bit longer than mine; it would have been just over his ears and down to his collar; it is wavy,” he told police at the time of the killings.
So even Keith Hunter’s evidence proves Scott Watson is the mystery man. Scott Watson is the killer of Ben and Olivia.
And he’s where he belongs.
On New Year’s Day in 2018 Guy Wallace got caught on radio throwing Scott Watson under the bus. He gave an interview to Newstalk ZB’s Tim Dower that went like this:
Dower: Did you see Scott Watson at all that night?
W: Yeah I think I saw him in the tent, because he had, he was drinking out of a rigger, and he had the rigger in the fridge where the band was playing until someone poured a jug of beer on their amp and that stopped that
D: So that was back at the Lodge?
W: That was back – outside the Lodge they had a marquee set up out there for the band
D: Did you give him a ride that night?
W: Nah, didn’t even see him, really
D: So he was in the tent and that was it.
To the ordinary listener, and even journalists, there was no obvious clue that Wallace had just confirmed Scott Watson was the killer. But because I have the complete court file I knew something the news media didn’t. Guy Wallace had talked about this very incident, on oath, while giving evidence in Watson’s 1999 High Court trial. Back then, he was adamant that the guy in the garden bar with his beer in the fridge was the mystery man:
About what time was it do you think that you saw him down there in this position you have indicated in photograph 16 … it would have been well after midnight becos the bar had thinned out a lot and it was quite a popular place to stand
When you saw him there when you saw the bar had thinned out do you mean the Garden Bar … I do yes
So it was pretty quiet or less busy than it had been … less busy than it had been by far yes
And as best you can when was it in the morning that it became less busy how long after midnight did it tail off like that …. 1, 2, 1.30 2 o’clock or something
Just tell us about the person you encountered near the Hoby cat …. It was the same man from the bar that we have been discussing previously
The same man who introduced himself to you as coming from Picton … that’s correct
And what about in relation to the man that you had seen in the Garden Bar … same man
Upon the occasion that you were in the Garden Bar and you saw him, I don’t what you to tell us what you were told by anyone else, but on that occasion when you were there did you see something there in the glass fronted fridge in the Garden Bar … yes there was pub pet in there with somebody’s name or something written on it.
These pub pets are clear plastic are they … that’s correct
Could you see whether it was full ….. it was half full, probably what drew my attention to it.
That it was half full and had a name written on it … that’s correct
Can you recall now the name or anything of the name that was written on it … no
And I don’t want you to tell us what was said but when you saw it there did you ask people there something about it … I did
And who did you speak to about it ,…. Mike Cronin or Dave Furneaux
Were they there at the time … yes
Both behind the bar … both behind the bar
The key explosive point is that Wallace found a plastic ‘pub pet’ or ‘rigger’ in the bar fridge with a man’s name on, and he asked security guard Mike Cronin whose it was. Cronin pointed out a man standing nearby who Wallace recognised as the mystery man he had served earlier in the main bar.
Crucially, Guy Wallace on oath told the court he remembered seeing a name on the rigger bottle, but could no longer by the time of trial remember the name.
As you saw in the ZB interview transcript, that memory suddenly came back to him on live radio when he recalled the incident – unprompted by any leading question – and volunteered out of the blue that he’d seen Scott Watson in the garden bar and found his rigger in the fridge.
Wallace’s subconscious memory has admitted what he himself still refuses to believe – that Watson was indeed the killer.
Now, some people still are not convinced even though in any court case this would have a prosecutor exclaiming “Gotcha!”. Some people still insist Wallace could just be confused.
Unfortunately for that theory, there is an independent witness – Mike Cronin the guard. Here’s what he said to police back in 1998:
“I don’t recall anyone being difficult at the bar that night except I recall a guy with a denim shirt. I can remember a guy in a denim shirt drinking a rigger of beer and asked if we could keep it in the cooler and get it out when he wanted it. He seemed okay so we did it for him. He wasn’t any trouble though. I would describe him as 5’6”, slim to medium build, short hair, male, Caucasian. He wore jeans and a denim shirt light blue and jeans. I would recognise this person again. He just stood there, had a beer and didn’t cause any trouble.”
He then gave a second statement after picking Scott Watson’s photo out of a montage.
“In my first statement dated 10.03.98 I described a guy in a denim shirt who was drinking a rigger of beer. I identified this person later in a photo montage [identified Scott Watson].
“When I saw this person he was in the garden bar. I was working behind the bar. I cannot remember when I first saw this guy in the garden bar but it was busy at the time so I would think it was after 10 pm. At this time he was standing near the corner of the bar. I have indicated on a sketch where we was standing. He was just standing there having a beer. He was not causing any problems. I spoke to him a couple of times but it was difficult to hear. I cannot remember what was said but it would have been general conversation.
“I cannot remember how long he was there for but he did leave and returned later on. When he came back it was a lot quieter. I am not sure of the time but I think the music had stopped so it would have been after 2 am.
“When he came back there was only Dave FURNEAUX, a couple of security guys and a couple of patrons. At this time he was standing further down the garden bar (indicated on sketch). I can’t remember what was said but he didn’t cause any problems. He had obviously had a bit to drink at this stage,” Cronin confirmed.
And here the circle closes. Scott Watson is the killer. Guy Wallace testified on oath that the man at the garden bar with the rigger in the fridge was the mystery man who later followed him from the Hoby Cat to the water taxi and took Ben and Olivia to their deaths. He could not in 1999 remember the name on the man’s beer bottle, but he confirmed he spoke to Mike Cronin and Dave Furneaux about it.
Cronin confirmed the man was Watson, and that’s what he told the jury in 1999…so the jury were able to join the dots and find Watson guilty.
Now, finally, in an unprompted answer to a radio interviewer, Guy Wallace has finally remembered the name on the bottle and the face at the bar:
Dower: Did you see Scott Watson at all that night?
W: Yeah I think I saw him in the tent, because he had, he was drinking out of a rigger, and he had the rigger in the fridge where the band was playing..
Game, set, match. The killer was Watson, regardless of what the flaky Guy Wallace says publicly. Scott Watson himself admits to being there (with the jersey that barstaff Roz McNeilly and Chey Phipps both saw) and talking to Dave Furneaux’s offsider Rick McLeod:
“I don’t think I had my jersey off—I still had it the next day. I can remember being in the beer tent talking to Rick McLEOD,” Watson told police.
The proof of Watson’s guilt is now overwhelming.
ITEM SEVEN: DID WATSON GET A HAIRCUT?
One of the big issues for Guy Wallace and Roz McNeilly at trial was their memory of Scott Watson having longer hair on the night than his mugshots in the police montage suggested.
It has been suggested by Watson’s most vocal supporters, in a #fakenews, #alternativefacts way, that Wallace and McNeilly never identified Watson as the mystery man. That’s not true.
McNeilly told police:
“I identified a person from this photo montage as the person who was in Reg’s Corner at the front of the bar on New Year’s Eve.
“I have viewed a series of 8 photographs titled Montage B and I identify photograph 3 as being that male or very similar to.
“The most noticeable thing about him from memory was his eyes which were slanted as appear in the photo. When he was sitting in the bar his eyes were as they are in the photo, slanted and drooping as if he was pissed or stoned.
“The nose appears the same but the hair shown in the photo is shorter than I remember. His lips appear the same – thin as opposed to the other photos.”
So we know the only difference between Roz’s memory of the mystery man, and the Watson photo, was the hair length. The rest of him, eyes, nose, lips, was identical. Hair length was her only doubt.
Compare the identikit she drew long before she was ever shown Watson’s photo. The eyes, nose and lips are identical to Watson.
I would like you to look at a copy of the montage B then Exhibit 142, just looking at that do you recognise that as the page of photographs you were asked to look at by Det Hamilton … yes I do
Looking at it now can you confirm which numbered photograph you identified or recognised as being the man that you had with you on the Naiad that you had dropped off with the pair onto this boat … yes I can
Which one was that … number 3
What can you say about the appearance of the man in photograph 3 in comparrsion to your recollection of the man on the night, what features of his appearance in the photograph are particularly significant to you … the shorter hair, he doesn’t appear to have quite so much stubble on his face
Are there anything about his eyes which are significant … they seem similar
You say he doesn’t seem to have as much stubble on his face in photograph 3 … that’s correct
How sure are you about recognising photograph 3 as the person that you took with you on the Naiad and dropped off onto this boat with the pair … I am pretty definite
Just referring to photograph 3 how does the likeness in photograph 3 compare with the person you served up at the bar … yes the same person
The person that you had seen in the Garden Bar … yes, the same person
The person who approached you from the Hoby Cat area … that’s correct
Correct what .. that is the correct, that is the person
COURT: THE SAME PERSON… the same person sorry Your Honour
The person that got into the Naiad with you prior to that first trip that you made out to the “Tamarack” … yes
But under cross examination, Wallace was worried about the shorter hair in the photo.
And you made the point to the police in relation to no.3 in the photograph that at the time he had a good growth on his chin and face … that’s right
And the man in no. 3 doesn’t have that .. doesn’t appear to no
And he had a more unkept look … yes
Right. His hair is the man in no.3 had more length to it … yes
And it was more bushy and wavy … more wavy yes
And you made the comment at the time that the fringe of the person that was on the Naiad and was in the bar was lower down his forehead towards the eyebrows … yes it appeared to be
Than the man that appears in no.3 on the montage right … yes
There’s a reason Guy Wallace and Roz McNeilly remembered a longer fringe: Watson got his hairdresser mum to cut it before he went to the police station and had his mugshot taken. Take a look at security camera footage of Watson on New Year’s Eve as he was leaving for Furneaux, and see how his fringe disappears for his mugshot:
Neighbour Charlie Proctor was one of the first to notice and told police:
“I know what Scott WATSON looks like. He’s been walking past my place here for years. Other times I’ve noticed him he’s been a scruffy guy. He’d wear jeans and his clothes would be well worn and he’d be unshaven. His hair was reasonably scruffy.
“He’d always look at me and look in here but he’d never speak.
“It was only 5 – 6 days ago that I noticed Scott walking up the street. I was outside with my neighbour Dave COARD working on the house he lives in. Scott walked past and just looked at us. It was the day before you brought the sloop up out of the water.
“That’s how I remember it because the next day Dave said, “That’s the guy – that’s Scotty’s sloop they’ve taken out of the water”. Dave knows the boat and told me it used to be red and white. He told me that before the media or anyone said it was red and white.
“Scott’s appearance has changed. He’s got tidier I suppose. When we saw him his hair was shorter, just like it had just been cut. He was wearing a creamy / brownish dress shirt. He had gold framed shades on with green lenses. He was clean shaven. I noticed it. He had definitely changed.
“I saw him twice walk up the street that day. ”
Dave Coard backed this up:
“The day he walked past my place, the day before the Police took his yacht, I hardly recognised Scotty. His hair was normally a bit longer, it was shorter than normal.”
An entirely independent witness, Gary Kenny, said the same thing:
Last Sunday week (11.1.98) at about 10 am I was at work to do a wee job. I heard some banging next door at Owen’s yard. It sounded like door being slammed or something being dropped. The noise came from the direction of the logging yard.
“I walked to the corner of my yard and had a look. I couldn’t see anything. I finished my job, then opened Owen’s gate up and did a visual on all the gear around the office and the loaders. I relocked the gate, drove down the road and stopped to talk to some people in a car further up the road. This was down beside Peter McMANAWAYs.
“About within 5 minutes of locking the gate, I saw a person walk out from between the gate and the hill. I saw this through my rear vision mirror. I watched him walk towards my car and I recognised this person as Scott WATSON.
“I didn’t take any notice of what he was wearing but he was a lot more tidily presented than what he normally is. He normally has hair longer than normal, not real tidy, scruffy looking. Although I didn’t see him often its hard to say whether he’s cleanshaven or not. On this particular day he was cleanshaven. He also looked like he’d had a hair cut. I can’t really remember what his hair was like prior to it being cut as I know who he is but I have never taken much notice of him.”
This is why Guy Wallace and Roz McNeilly felt so unsure about identifying Watson as the mystery man…he conned them by getting a haircut.
Scott Watson, supposedly an innocent man, painted his boat at sea less than five hours after the couple were taken, to change its appearance. He lied about where he went for the next 36 hours and what he did. He changed his own appearance before getting his police mugshot taken.
What kind of person with nothing to hide, hides so much in a homicide investigation?
A photo of Watson taken on the Mina Cornelia at 9pm before going ashore purports to show short hair. But in fact most of Watson’s hair is obscured. What is obvious is that he’s just brushed his hair.
That photo was used to bamboozle Wallace and McNeilly and mess with their recollections. But what people have to remember is that tidy brushed hair at 9pm can look very different after six hours of drinking, falling over in puddles and physical scuffles. Take a look at how long ‘short’ hair can appear when it’s messed up.
ITEM EIGHT: KEY POINTS ABOUT THIS CASE TO REMEMBER:
We have come almost to the end of this free book. Now to review what we have learned.
The two trip theory is real, Watson went back to get a jersey
Water taxi driver Don Anderson remembered taking Watson back to Blade. He thought it was at 2am, but his description of the boat’s stern facing the shore equates to a pre-midnight time for the trip. As you’ve seen, Watson admitted grabbing a jersey, and wearing it in the outside garden bar. “I don’t think I had my jersey off,” Watson told police. Ollie Perkins remembered Watson wearing a jersey during their 3am altercation:
“He was wearing a denim shirt coloured light blue with a navy coloured fisherman knit jersey over top. He had jeans, possibly black in colour.”
Bar staff Roz McNeilly told police the mystery man had a jersey: “I don’t remember seeing his forearms and thought that he had on a dark V necked jersey. I remember thinking that he must have been hot in it.”
Bar staff Chey Phipps told police: “I thought he was wearing a jersey with a collared shirt underneath and that may have been a neutral colour also.”
Guy Wallace is adamant he saw a ketch, but it was actually Alliance. Here’s the final proof
Remember back in the mystery ketch section we discovered the police diagram of boat locations used in the court trial was wrong? I printed a corrected version here showing the problem. They had listed Alliance in the wrong place – well to port (left) of the jetty as you looked towards the shore. In actual fact, photos confirmed Alliance was anchored to starboard (right) of the jetty, and that’s where all the court witnesses kept saying in evidence, ‘but I saw the mystery ketch here”, while pointing at the gap in the diagram.
Well, yes, Guy was adamant he saw a mystery ketch, but read his words carefully and look where he is placing it – right where Alliance actually was!
“The “Tamarack” was anchored about 80-100 m portside of the jetty. I refer to the port as being the side when you face the jetty from the water. It was probably 50-60 m out from shore. The ketch was just on the starboard side of the jetty. It was close to the jetty but I wouldn’t want to say how close.”
This description is what seals the fate of Guy Wallace’s ketch claim. He has clearly told police he knows the ketch he was remembering, and he has clearly told them where it was. It is clumsy police work that has caused 20 years of confusion, because it is now blindingly obvious there was a ketch right where Guy saw it: the Alliance.
Guy described the mystery ketch this way:
“The ketch I would describe as a timber ketch, about 38-40 foot. It’s what I would describe as a typical old ketch design. I’d say it’s designed in the ‘60’s era. It was white with a dark blue stripe running along the side above the waterline. It had round portholes which were below the deck. I’m not sure how many but I think 5-7 per side. I’m not sure if the portholes went through the blue stripe. It had a bulbous transom (refer sketch). A transom is the stern of the boat—where the stern leaves the water. The ketch had heaps of ropes on it. Even though it was old it was very well maintained.”
Which, as you can see from the photo, is Alliance. This is the boat that was actually anchored in the position that everyone including Guy Wallace remembered the mystery ketch being anchored in. The position police told the court no ketch was anchored in.
Wallace’s description of the boat, and his positioning of it, make it certain that the ketch he was thinking of was Alliance. But that created a new problem for his subconscious memory to deal with.
The Free Scott Watson campaign and the Watson family regularly lie about the evidence to deflect attention away from Scott Watson. You’ve seen examples of their fabrications that I challenged online and reprinted in this book. Well, here’s another you can add to them.
Guy Wallace remembered the boat he had dropped Ben and Olivia off to had been rafted up to other boats.
What can you say about this boat that you dropped these 3 people to – first of all you have mentioned the boat being with others, how many others was it with…Anywhere from three to five, including itself.
So three to five boats tied up together…Rafted up yes.
How big was the boat, what type of boat was it, that you dropped these three off to…It appeared to me to be a ketch, 38-40 foot, very well maintained vessel.
Wallace remembered a ketch, rafted, but he also knew that a big ketch can only be rafted to a boat of similar size, which is why his mind scrambled and suggested it was rafted to the big launch Spirit of Marlborough.
“I have just seen a video of boats at the Furneaux and I’m pretty sure the boat I dropped the people off on is next to the Spirit of Marlborough.”
That was a raft of big boats close to where he remembered actually taking the couple to.
Let’s look at the diagram:
Now read the conversation that took place as Guy Wallace weaved his water taxi through these boats in the darkness:
“We were about 15-20 metres from the ketch when he said, “That’s it there”. At this time of the morning it is very dark in the inlet. When he pointed to it initially I could make out it was a yacht but I couldn’t tell what it was. When the male pointed to the ketch and said, “That’s it”, Ben said, “Please tell me it’s that one”. He was looking at a boat very similar to or a Markline which was rafted next to it. I’m not sure if any of the boats which were rafted to the ketch were attached to a buoy or anchored. He said, “No but I’m next to it if that helps”.
A photo taken at sunset on New Year’s Eve helps even more. In the distance, boat 74 is Tamarack, where Ben & Olivia climbed onto the water taxi. On their way through the fleet they passed boat 52, Alliance, but their destination was the raft containing boats 22, 23 and 112 (Blade). As you can see Spirit of Marlborough is boat 58, while boat 18 – the big Salthouse launch in the foreground – is Kaela Rose. At the time of the photo all boats were pointing bow-out towards the incoming tide. By the time of the taxi ride at 4am the fleet had swung around and their bows were facing the shore.
It is blindingly obvious that Guy Wallace dropped everyone off in the position of Blade, having motored past the big launches that Ben had seen.
But what about the mystery man telling Wallace he had crewed on a ketch? This was part of the conversation at the bar, when the mystery man had explained he’d come from Christchurch (Watson tick), was now in Picton (Watson tick), had crewed on fishing boats (Watson tick) and was a crewman on a ketch (Watson tick, he crewed on the ketches Faith and Galerna). It is no great leap to suggest that Watson discussing ketches and fishing at the bar had planted those memories in Wallace’s brain – perhaps he was even subconsciously looking for the ketch Watson had mentioned.
Guy Wallace “knows his ketches”. He correctly identified the location of the mystery ketch at position 52 (Alliance), and the boat he described was indeed Alliance. But he remembered his taxi ride going out to a boat rafted up near the Spirit of Marlborough (boat 58), which is just opposite Blade (boat 112) -rafted up to boats 22 and 23.
Mystery explained. The mystery man, as we know, was Watson. The mystery ketch was Alliance, which Wallace had seen at sunset off the jetty, but the ride ended at Blade, Watson’s boat, which is why Guy Wallace’s first ketch sketch (stripped of second mast and portholes that neither Dyer or Morresey saw) is a perfect match for the shape of Blade when superimposed over the top of it.
A group of boaties who wanted to clear Scott Watson’s name swung in behind Wallace, and after the trial they convinced him the ketch must have been moored on its own. Wallace changed his story accordingly, and it has been a confused mish-mash ever since.
They did not get on a big high-sided ketch
All three witnesses who saw Ben and Olivia last say the same thing – it was a mere step from the naiad to the yacht, no climbing involved. The boat deck was so low to the water that Wallace remarked it would easily take water on the deck. The boat, he said, was shaped like a banana. That’s Blade. As you’ve seen, the documentary Murder on the Blade hugely misled the public in my view by using interviews with the key witnesses recorded years after the events and where the interviews directly contradicted their statements to police. From a low boat and just a step, suddenly it was a huge ketch with handrails seven feet above sea level – far too hard to “step” onto from a naiad in pitch darkness. To get three people onto such a boat would easily take three minutes in the dark -not seconds – and tiny Olivia would have needed assistance. In my view Keith Hunter’s failure to reveal the changes in the stories was utterly deceptive and dishonest. If Hunter didn’t have direct access to the court file and was relying on statements drip-fed from Chris Watson, then he was a mug.
Two of those last three witnesses never described a ketch
Contrary to what you heard from a mate in the pub, Facebook or the deceptive spin merchants assisting the Watson family, Hayden Morresey and Sarah Dyer never saw a ketch. Never saw two masts. Nor did they see portholes. The only similarity between the boat they saw, and the one described by Wallace, “is that they both float”. In fact, the mast position described by Morresey “just in front of the cabin”, (and despite approaching from the front he never saw a mast in front of this one or behind this one) is consistent with Blade.
Anyone who tells you the three water taxi witnesses all agree they saw a big wooden ketch is lying to you.
Morresey couldn’t be sure about the railings:
“I remember that when the water taxi pulled the Naiad alongside the boat I grabbed one of the metal railings with my right hand. I did this to secure the Naiad to the other boat and give the water taxi guy a hand to steady the boat. The boat could have had wire railings or they may have been rope.”
Morresey never told police that the boat was made of wood
“I don’t know what the boat was made of.”
Watson’s clothes from that night have never been found
Watson’s T-shirt, blue Country Road shirt, jersey, good jeans and boots are missing. While he had other jeans and shirts checked by police, they were not the ones he was wearing.
The Mystery Man was not wearing a green denim shirt
Guy Wallace suggested the man in the water taxi may have been wearing a khaki or green coloured shirt. The lighting on the wharf was orangey-yellow; blues looked greenish in that light.
Jetty manager Rachael Veitch told police “The lighting conditions for these areas were good and although, when dark, you could see people at the seaward end of the “floater”, you could not see clothing details or colours. The bulbs for this pole were halogen type bulbs.”
Scott Watson’s Erie Bay alibi was a lie
Murder on the Blade, Doubt, North & South, the Herald podcasts and numerous media stories have all taken Watson’s alibi as true: he went directly to Erie Bay on 1 Jan, arriving about midday, and the Zappa family only changed their stories to say he arrived at 5pm because police were threatening drugs charges against Zappa. Painted his boat there on 2 January, left on 3 January, picked up his sister Sandy on 3 January and sailed for a few days with her on holiday.
That’s the official media line, and it is an utter and complete crock of horse manure.
The alibi of the prime suspect in a murder investigation is crucially important. If true, it points to innocence. If false, it points to guilt.
Watson’s alibi was false.
Independent eyewitnesses staying at Erie Bay saw Watson sail Blade in – at midday on 2 January, not midday on 1 January. The boat, they told police, was already blue when it sailed in.
Zappa’s two children both threw Watson under the bus in their very first witness statements. Both interviewed simultaneously, but in different rooms by different detectives, each child independently confirmed Watson’s boat had already been painted by the time he arrived at Erie.
Look at how the children, staring out the window at Blade, described the boat on its arrival:
“He came on his boat. It was a different colour than last year. It was blue on the top,” the son told a detective. “Scott was wearing a blue woollen jersey. He had black jeans on too.”
Interviewed separately by a different detective, the 13 year old daughter told police:
“He was wearing a black or dark blue wool jersey & blue jeans. I would say his face was prickly. He needed a shave. I remember that his yacht was sort of navy blue & white in colour when he arrived.”
There’s a reason those two kids have never appeared in a documentary and won’t appear at any retrial on Watson’s behalf: because the evidence given by their family at trial was a lie, opening them up to a criminal charge of perjury. When Watson told police he had repainted his boat at Erie, Zappa and his kids immediately changed their stories, to say they had got it wrong, Scott’s boat was really red and white when it arrived.
That’s the evidence they gave in court, but it was false. I invited the daughter, now 33, to come clean for the sake of Ben and Olivia and their families. She didn’t have the strength to go on the record. Understandable perhaps in light of this news that I reported in the postscript of Elementary:
“As this book was going to press, former Det. S.Sgt Wayne Stringer told me Watson had not just ‘confessed’ to Zappa about the murders but actually boasted about it, in the same breath making barely veiled lewd threats about Zappa’s 13 year old daughter. Zappa told Stringer this directly, years later.”
Stringer, who had been a friend of Zappa’s, says he confided after Watson’s conviction that he’d lied to cover for Watson because Watson threatened to do to his daughter what he had done to Olivia.
So the alibi was false. We know that from the very first police statements of the children divulging the boat had already been repainted when it arrived at Erie.
We know Watson was seen heading to Picton on New Year’s morning, not Erie Bay. We know three different witnesses on three different vessels, reported seeing two people on Blade – Watson and another man. Two boats saw the second man holding something in his hand, and one witness saw him actually painting the boat from red to blue, live at sea, en route to Picton.
Ted and Eyvonne Walsh told police they saw a man painting his boat blue near Picton later New Year’s Day. Ted Walsh told police it was definitely Blade, and definitely Scott Watson.
Circle closes. Watson did not paint his boat at Erie Bay. He wasn’t even at Erie Bay until midday 2 January (see Elementary). That leaves a gaping 36 hour hole after Ben and Olivia disappeared that Scott Watson lied to police about.
Watson’s court trial lasted three months. It was far too complex to have more than mere snippets in the newspapers each day. But 13 journalists sat through the entire trial. As the jury deliberated, so did those media representatives:
“I covered the story for TV3 from the very beginning to the very end,” writes Andi Brotherston, “and was one of the 13 journalists on the media bench who sat through the entire trial. Unlike the jury, we didn’t have to keep an open mind. In fact, at the beginning of the trial most of us thought the Crown was on a hiding to nothing and Watson would walk.
“It took three months to present and test the evidence and at the conclusion, the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict. While the jury deliberated, we conducted an anonymous poll of the media bench. Twelve of us believed Watson was guilty, one wasn’t convinced.”
FINALLY: SO WHAT HAPPENED TO BEN & OLIVIA?
Since I first published Elementary, so many people have asked me how Watson could have murdered two people while he was rafted to two other yachts. The obvious answer is that it didn’t happen that way.
I think what happened is quite simple. It was only by mere chance that Ben & Olivia ended up on the water taxi with Watson. There was no pre-planning of this crime to target them specifically. There was no international drug syndicate plotting to get Ben.
Instead, a drunk and sexually aggressive Watson invited the couple onto Blade, then went to see if he could rustle up more revellers on the other yachts. They told him to get lost and he clambered back on Blade to find Ben and Olivia already asleep. It was then, and only then, that a deadly idea hatched in his mind. All he had to do was get them to a more secluded spot.
Watson did not start up his diesel engine straight away. We know no-one heard him leave that night. He untied the boat silently and slipped off into the night, starting his engine once he was clear.
Would the noise have woken Ben and Olivia? Both were drunk, and very tired. Maybe Watson had an excuse ready if they stirred – ‘I am just moving the boat closer to yours’ or something like that. Or maybe he had a can of ether on board, often carried to help start older diesels. A whiff of ether on a cloth under the nose will turn sleep into unconsciousness. Remember, Watson had talked of a fantasy about killing a woman during the act of raping her, and there are drugs you can slip into a drink to help the process. We can only speculate.
Keith Hunter and others have rubbished the idea that three adults could have boarded the near 30 foot sloop without causing it to lurch, but they fail to mention the Blade was lashed to two other big yachts in a single raft. One of those boats had eight people on board and didn’t heel over. The raft gave all three boats stability.
The cold hard facts are Blade disappeared without waking anyone, Watson then lied about his movements for the next 36 hours, Ben and Olivia vanished, and so too did every item of clothing that Watson was seen in that night.
In Elementary, three witnesses describe seeing a boat identical to Blade arriving at Picton’s Shakespeare Bay with two men apparently struggling to load two objects wrapped in sails that “looked like bodies” over the railing into a waiting dinghy on New Year’s morning, just after 11.30am. With Watson’s boat seen off Kurakura Point at 10am, the distance from there to Shakespeare Bay was eight nautical miles, clearly achievable in 90 minutes in a boat sailing at five knots on an incoming tide of around three knots.
If that’s the case, then Ben and Olivia are on land, not water.
Now that we know Watson sailed to Picton not Erie Bay, the body unloading to a waiting accomplice appears to be what really happened and it explains why an extensive search of the seabed failed to find anything.
Only one question remains: who could Watson rely on to cover up such a deadly secret after the fact without ratting him out? When we find the answer to that, we may find the bodies…
Now you have had the chance to see the weight of the overwhelming circumstantial evidence in this case. Are the 1 in 28000 odds of a DNA match from the hairs still crucial to this case, or have you come to the realisation that all the identical similarities between the mystery man and Scott Watson (always in same place at same time, coming from same towns, working the same jobs, each sailing their own boat, wearing the same clothes, looking the same, smoking the same rollies, and stepping onto their yachts at 4am) make the odds of these men being different people (billions to one against) so ridiculous that they far eclipse any certainty that DNA can ever provide?
When you then throw in Scott Watson’s lying about everything he did after 4am Jan 1 through to midday on Jan 2, and his now proven false alibi, the probability that he is the killer is massive. Beyond reasonable doubt requires about 95% certainty for a jury, as opposed to the civil case test of ‘balance of probabilities’ (51% more likely or higher). A 95% certainty is a probability of 20 to one in favour of criminal guilt, yet as I have said the combined odds of Watson being the killer are about a billion to one in favour of his guilt. A DNA match on those hairs gave odds of about 28,000 to one.
DNA evidence has only been with us since the late 1980s, and even now has its problems. For thousands of years trials have been judged based on eyewitness accounts and circumstantial evidence.
A famous judge explained the combined strength of circumstantial evidence this way:
“Circumstantial evidence to the contrary, is like a rope. And each fact is a strand of that rope. And as the prosecution piles one fact upon another we add strands and we add strength to that rope. If one strand breaks – and I’m not conceding for one moment that any strand has broken in this case – but if one strand does break, the rope is not broken. The strength of the rope is barely diminished. Why? Because there are so many other strands of almost steel-like strength that the rope is still more than strong enough to bind these two defendants to justice. That’s what circumstantial evidence is all about.”
That then is the test you must apply to the evidence you have just read: as a ‘juror’ on this story, do you find the defendant guilty or innocent? Let us know on the Facebook link below.
To watch the free 98 minute webinar that covers the evidence Doubt forgot to tell you, click on this video:
To get a hard copy of either of the Elementary books, try your library or the nearest Whitcoulls while stocks last.
To join the debate on Facebook, follow the Scott Watson Facts page
 20075 / JS / NAIAD DRIVER ENQUIRY / TFD573 / 130198
 Guy Wallace testified that he saw the “mystery man” in the garden bar at precisely this time when he came out to check on operations at the bar around 1.30am. He told the court he also went to the beer fridge and wanted to know why they were storing a punter’s drink in there when that was not supposed to happen given the large number of punters and limited fridge space. He testified that he discussed the issue with Cronin. This doesn’t prove the “mystery man” was Watson, although Wallace did later identify him as such, but it does prove that—just like the “mystery ketch” and the Alliance, always in the same place at the same time—so too were the “mystery man” and Watson.
 11841 / ST / MICHAEL CRONIN / GT3329 / 100398
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 10268 / ST / EDWARD SUNDSTRUM / MK8254 / 160198
 10184 / ST / AMANDA EGDEN / AHD181 / 120198
 10055 / ST / CHRISTOPHER BISMAN / BB3624 / 120198
 20043 / ST / RICHARD EGDEN / SID741 / 120198
 20203 / ST / SIMON BELL / PPD601 / 170198
 20203 / ST / SIMON BELL / PPD601 / 170198
 10670 / ST / DONALD ANDERSON / MW7124 / 060298
 10823 / ST / DONALD ANDERSON / LC8773 / 050398
 10823 / ST / DONALD ANDERSON / LC8773 / 050398
 40980 / ST / DONALD ANDERSON / TFD573 / 040598
 13043 / JS / DAVID MAHONY / BM6952 / 180698
 Guy Wallace Evidence in Chief at trial
 11584 / ST / NEIL WATTS / DL7209 / 270298
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 40587 / ST / ROZLYN McNEILLY / BM6952 / 200398
 20250 / ST / CHEY PHIPPS / ASD279 / 090198
 40365 / ST / GUY WALLACE / SM7883 / 030498
 10081 / ST / GUY WALLACE / TFD573 / 090198 / W In one of his first statements to police, Watson said, “I first noticed the male who I described in my first statement at about 9.00 pm.”
 12635 / TAPE / VIDEO INTERVIEW GUY WALLACE / TFD573 / 110198
 10669 / ST / DAVID MAHONY / DE5136 / 080298
 20084 / ST / DAVID MAHONY / RHD118 / 120198
 40318 / ST / PETER MORRISON / SB8404 / 180398
 20728 / ST / DAVID COWPER / SM8432 / 230198
 http://www.skeptictank.org/treasure/GP2/GPEXAM5.TXT, see also http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1985/Greenpeace-ship-nears-French-testing-site/id-c432248950b70bf12209a4112ef8657f
 https://www.technologyreview.com/s/520156/memory-is-inherently-fallible-and-thats-a-good-thing/ by Susan Young Rojahn for MIT Technology Review, 9 October 2013
 Both Wallace and Morresey will have initially and instinctively reached up to the top handrail, which was easily accessible to them because of its continuous perimeter around Blade’s deck. The upright stanchions were spaced more than a metre apart – reaching for a stanchion in the first instance would have literally been a stab in the dark. As the Naiad came to rest there’s no guarantee that a stanchion was located close enough for Wallace to grab.
 Hunter criticises me for leaving out the rest of Edwards’ sentence saying he couldn’t be positive there were two people on board. Given that two more independent witnesses saw two men on this boat in the same location at the same time, I regard Sam’s uncertainty as irrelevant in the light of corroborating evidence that he was not aware of at the time.
 “I would say that Terry [Stevens on Velocity] & our boat, Simply Red headed off from Tawa Bay at about 9.30—9.40 am,” said Jan Bolton to police.
 This appears to be an error. Kurakura Point is the headland at the southern entrance to Endeavour Inlet, and Robertson appears to have mistakenly referred to “Bull Head” which occupies the southern entrance to the next inlet down the coast, the Bay of Many Coves. It is physically impossible, coming out of Endeavour Inlet, to pass Bull Head before reaching Snake Point.
 “I couldn’t see a name anywhere on the yacht but it had a thin piece of board or something similar at the stern with a hand painted name on it. It looked fairly new and had a name that appeared either French or Spanish. It could have read something like Caravel.”—Debbie Corless on Mina Cornelia
 Fingerprints left on bare metal cause an acidic reaction in the metal that lasts forever unless it is sanded down. http://www.gizmag.com/the-indelible-fingerprint/9519/
 “The effect of cleaning agents on the DNA analysis of blood stains deposited on different substrates”, Harris et al, International Congress Series 1288 (2006) 589–591
 “DNA Evidence Uncompromised by Active Oxygen,” Castello et al, The Scientific World JOURNAL Volume 10 (2010), Pages 387-392 http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/tsw.2010.47
 Trial By Trickery, page 101 onwards
 Elementary, p65
 Elementary p45
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